The UK Court of Appeal will on Wednesday hear arguments protesting a High Court judgement last November, which said it was illegal to email a client hyperlinks to newspaper stories without the client having a licence.
Online reputation management and web monitoring firm Meltwater and the Public Relations Consultant Association (PRCA) had lost a case brought against them by the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA). The NLA's case was based on the idea that newspaper publishers' online content is subject to copyright, to the extent that an NLA licence is required to email business clients hyperlinked headlines.
The High Court agreed with the NLA that sending someone a hyperlinked headline amounts to the distribution of content, and that the person receiving the link in a newsletter must have an NLA licence to do so. The web monitoring firms and aggregators sending out the newsletter also need a licence, the court said.
Jens-Petter Glittenberg, Meltwater's head of business development, said at a copyright policy legal forum in London that the UK's lack of fair use was a problem, whereas the company has no such issues in countries such as the US that do have a concept of fair use.
"In those markets we have no problems. In markets that do not have fair use, that’s where we need to spend money on lawyers," Glittenberg said, adding: "UK copyright law was not written with the internet in mind — it is open to interpretation and that will benefit the large established players."