Update: Newspaper Licensing Agency hits back at claim it is ‘taxing the internet’

Last week PR industry reps and news aggregators accused the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) of a  ‘blatant and unjustified attempt to tax the internet’, over plans to charge them for redistributing hyperlinks.

In a letter issued on Thursday, Meltwater, NewsNow, the PR Consultants Association and Updatum called for the NLA ‘to stop this legally baseless attempt to assert its copyright’. The letter was a response to the NLA’s announcement in June that it intends to start charging web aggregators for a licence, permitting them to use links to newspaper articles.

Now, in a statement issued to paidContent:UK, NLA commerical director Andrew Hughes has said the intention behind the licence is to redistribute some of the ‘substantial revenues (aggregators) generate to the content owners’.

As the NLA estimate aggregators and news monitors make a combined annual revenue of £10 million, plans to charge ‘circa 10 percent’ for ‘content scraping’, would mean £1 million could be distributed back to the NLA’s 1,400 member newspapers.

Hughes told paidContent: “Monitoring companies create their services by copying newspaper content into a database to find relevant articles. This is commercial use of publishers’ intellectual property and is against the terms of use for every newspaper. By licensing this activity, the NLA will legitimise this industry.”

The NLA reports it has already signed up several aggregators to the plan, and responded to claims made in the letter that the licence could cost customers an extra £33,474 a year as ‘unsubstantiated and inaccurate’. This figure is in fact the maximum annual fee the NLA could charge for such a licence.

The decision to charge for hyperlinks has sparked much debate since it was announced, with the the Public Relations Consultants Association launching a petition opposing the licence.

4 thoughts on “Update: Newspaper Licensing Agency hits back at claim it is ‘taxing the internet’

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  3. Servé Tonino

    Next step: news aggregators charging publishers for advertising their websites and driving traffic to news sites.

  4. Bob

    Obviously the NLA has no legal standing for their claim.

    If there was any basis to their claim, their first and obvious action would be against Google. Google is the largest and most profitable aggregator on the Internet.

    This is simply an attempt to tax one of the fundamental building blocks of the Internet.

    What can we expect next, maybe we can expect an invoice from Mcvities and other biscuit makers for copyright on Internet cookies.

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