Meltwater – correct?

You will all by now have been made aware of the Supreme Court’s provisional ruling in the case of Public Relations Consultants Association Limited v The Newspaper Licensing Agency Limited and Others [2013] UKSC 18. If you’re not then IP and Publishing supremo Mr Simon Stokes has kindly written an article on this very subject.

I have no intention to rehash the facts of the case or the Supreme Court’s ruling, I will however say that I, for my sins, take a slightly different view from that of Mr Stokes. In the linked article Mr Stokes comments:

This is a hugely important decision if followed by the Court of Justice of the EU. But it begs a lot of questions. Not least why the Supreme Court felt so strongly that a web page should be equated to a printed book. A printed book has limited circulation. A web page can receive millions of hits. And this case was about the commercial use of copyrighted material where the rights owners were willing to offer licences to end users. Where content is commercially consumed by end users in such circumstances why shouldn’t rights holders be able to receive compensation from end users as well as their distributors?

I would agree that there are certainly differences between a printed book and that rights owners should certainly be compensated for the use of their works, however I am not convinced that the correct course of action would be going after the end users. Firstly the outcome of this case will almost certainly increase the licence fee that rights holders impose on distributors this will, in turn, push up the cost for the end user. The end result of this is that the rights holder gets its money anyway. Secondly it is the wider ramifications that concern me, if the ruling was to go the other way then we would, in my view, be left in a situation where the applicability of Section 28(a) of the CDPA was unclear, at best.

Anyway enough for me at this point, I will almost certainly post again when the CJEU comes back!


Image courtesy of Jan Pietruszka /

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