The case of the NLA versus Meltwater and the PRCA… and Mark Twain?

So, the much anticipated appeal case of the Meltwater Group and PRCA versus the NLA has come to a crashing pause. I say ‘pause’ as this issue is far from being put to rest with a Supreme Court referral already being planned by PRCA Director General, Francis Ingham.

In the supposedly black and white legal world, it would seem to some that the correct decision has been made but this does not make it the right decision.

As Mark Twain once said: ‘Only one thing is impossible for God: to find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.’

A statement as demonstrably true today as it was at the start of the 20th Century.

The ruling states that website users clicking on a link to a news article in a commercial setting will be held responsible for the infringement of copyright, unless the publisher holds a license for the content.

One of the key problems here is that the Law is struggling to keep up with the expeditious advances in technology and the uses that these advances are put to by millions of people globally, every day, in a rapidly evolving media landscape.

Laws are being put in place but it is the means by which to enforce these laws that become the problem, rendering the outcome of the hearing rather ineffectual.

As Ingham points out, based on the High Court ruling: ‘Millions of people were unwittingly infringing copyright on a daily basis.’

‘In our view it cannot stand and that is why we will proceed.’

And proceed they will.

With the UK Appeal Court modifying the contentious High Court ruling, which previously granted copyright protection for headlines as well as linked-to content, the PRCA and Meltwater Group can now proceed with the case to the Copyright Tribunal.

As Meltwater Group’s CEO, Jorn Lyseggen explains: ‘Last word in this case has not been said. We are confident that the Copyright Tribunal will rule the NLA licensing scheme is over-reaching and unreasonable.’

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