1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Copyright Tribunal's final decision in Meltwater now available

As readers of this Blog will remember, last February the Copyright Tribunal published its interim decision in the fascinating case of Meltwater Holding v The Newspaper Licensing Agency (see 1709 Blog's coverage here and here).
Now, the Tribunal has issued its final decision.
Controversy arose out of a new pair of licences promoted by NLA in 2010, called the Web Database Licence ("WDL”) and Web End Users Licence (“WEUL”). The WDL/WEUL relate to the particular type of media monitoring activity carried out by Meltwater. 
The NLA contended that the nature of Meltwater’s business meant that both it and its customers needed to take out WDL and WEUL agreements. Meltwater’s position was that it was prepared to enter into the WDL and undertook to do so, but that its customers did not have to enter into the WEUL at all. This was because Meltwater’s customers, by receiving the Meltwater service, did not commit any of the acts restricted by copyright and therefore did not need a licence. As clarified by the Tribunal in its interim decision, 
Surely there is more expectation about the 
Supreme Court's Meltwater ruling
than the release of The Dark Knight Rises ...
In a nutshell Meltwater’s point was that the material sent to customers was too insubstantial to be a copyright work or to be a substantial part of the original news article. Copying the material would not infringe (if there was no licence) and so copying the material was not a restricted act.

The findings of the Tribunal were however that 
end users of a headline only service should enter into the WEUL just like end users of the normal Meltwater News service of headlines plus extracts and should be subject to the same tariff rates.
This said, the Tribunal agreed with Meltwater and the PRCA's contention that the NLA's proposed licensing scheme was not reasonable and required amendment.
As reported by journalism.co.uk, since the interim decision of the Copyright Tribunal, the parties have worked together in close consultation to reach an agreement on the finer details of the licensing payment model, with a revised fixed price agreed upon.
Now, the Tribunal has accepted the terms proposed by the parties as "reasonable".
Some copyright enthusiasts are already camping
outside the Supreme Court,
waiting for the start of the Meltwater's hearings
Compared to the first licensing scheme, the agreement now includes - inter alia - reduced rates for the very smallest users (low number of employees) and, in parallel to this, increased rates for the users with high numbers of employees.
Co-founder of the Meltwater Group Jens-Petter Glittenberg explained that the NLA and Meltwater are now committed to ensuring that UK end users of such monitoring services are licensed quickly, fairly and efficiently. 
So far so good -- but fans of this saga will have to keep holding their breath for a year or so. Meltwater and PRCA appealed aspects of the Court of Appeal's decision on web browsing to the Supreme Court (see here). Release of the sequel is expected in early 2013.

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