London, 17th April – The Supreme Court today agreed with the PRCA and Meltwater that Internet users have the right to browse online freely without the threat of copyright infringement.
The Supreme Court, the highest court in the UK, accepted all of the arguments of the PRCA and Meltwater against the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) that browsing and viewing articles online does not require authorisation from the copyright holder, because it is protected by the temporary copy exception of UK copyright law. It has now referred the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), so that this point can be clarified across the EU.
The Supreme Court states that accepting the NLA’s position would be “an unacceptable result, which would make infringers of many millions of ordinary users of the Internet across the EU who use browsers and search engines for private as well as commercial purposes.”
The Supreme Court further rejected the NLA’s argument that rights-holders would be exposed to piracy as a consequence, as right holders have effective remedies against those who are more obviously at fault.
Francis Ingham, PRCA Director General, said: “We are delighted that the UK Supreme Court has accepted all of our arguments, which we look forward to making again at the CJEU. The Supreme Court understood that this does not just affect the PR world, but the fundamental rights of all EU citizens to browse the Internet.”
Today’s decision represents important forward progress in the series of cases where Meltwater and the PRCA have challenged the NLA on its high fees for reading freely available news. In a previous ruling, the PRCA and Meltwater were successful in reducing the fees for all businesses totaling more than £100 million over three years. The savings for Meltwater clients alone are more than £24 million in the same period.
Jorn Lyssegen, CEO of Meltwater said: “We are very pleased that the Supreme Court overruled the previous rulings of the Court of Appeals and The High Court that the simple act of browsing the Internet could be copyright infringement. This ruling is an important step in modernizing the interpretation of UK copyright law and protects UK Internet users from overreaching copyright collectors.”
Notes to editors
The Supreme Court ruling can be found here: http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/decided-cases/docs/UKSC_2011_0202_Judgment.pdf
The PRCA contested at the Supreme Court in February the Court of Appeal’s decision (link) that the temporary copies made through the purely technological process of displaying a web page on a computer to enable a user to read that web page is a violation of UK copyright law if made without the explicit consent of the copyright owner.
The PRCA and Meltwater have already reduced the cost of license fees at the Copyright Tribunal, saving an estimated £100m for the PR industry.
The CJEU ruling is expected at some point in 2014.
About the PRCA
Who we are: Founded in 1969, the PRCA is the professional body that represents UK PR consultancies, in-house communications teams, PR freelancers and individuals. The PRCA promotes all aspects of public relations and internal communications work, helping teams and individuals maximise the value they deliver to clients and organisations.
What we do: The Association exists to raise standards in PR and communications, providing members with industry data, facilitating the sharing of communications best practice and creating networking opportunities.
How we do it and make a difference: All PRCA members are bound by a professional charter and codes of conduct, and benefit from exceptional training. The Association also works for the greater benefit of the industry, sharing best practice and lobbying on the industry’s behalf e.g. fighting the NLA’s digital licence.
Who we represent: The PRCA represents many of the major consultancies in the UK, and currently has more than 300 agency members from around the world, including the majority of the top 150 UK consultancies. We also represent over 100 in-house communications teams from multinationals, UK charities and leading UK public sector organisations.
Meltwater helps businesses drive growth and build brands. Meltwater’s online intelligence platform analyzes billions of digital documents daily to extract precise, timely business insights that help more than 20,000 companies understand their markets, engage their customers, and master the new social business environment. With offices in 27 countries, Meltwater is dedicated to personal, global service built on local expertise.
PRCA Policy and Research Manager
+44 7233 6026
Manager, UK Marketing Communications
+44 7971 843653