Journal Article

Media monitoring services: Meltwater or meltdown?

Gill Grassie

in Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice

Volume 6, issue 8, pages 530-534
Published in print August 2011 | ISSN: 1747-1532
Published online May 2011 | e-ISSN: 1747-1540 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jiplp/jpr063
Media monitoring services: Meltwater or meltdown?

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Legal context

The recent High Court decision in Newspaper Licensing Agency Limited & Others –v- Meltwater Holdings BV, Meltwater News UK Limited and Public Relations Consultant Association Limited considered whether there could be copyright in headlines and short extracts from newspaper articles. It also dealt with the issue of whether any such copyright would be infringed if the recipients/end users of on line media monitoring services used the links provided as part of that service (containing the headlines and extracts) to access the actual article itself. This was with reference to sections 17, 18 and 23 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA). The fair dealing and temporary copying exceptions to infringement in terms of sections 30 and 28 of the CDPA respectively were considered along with the potential defences of implied licence and derogation from grant. The 2010 Infopaq decision of the European Court of Justice (Case C-5/08 Infopaq International v. Danske Dagblades Foening [2010] FSR 495) and also the Information Society Directive (Directive 2001/29/EC of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society) formed part of the court's deliberations.

Key points

The case decided that headlines and extracts of newspaper articles can be a freestanding original work in terms of the CDPA and that none of the exceptions or defences argued applied. This meant that certain activities constituted infringement of any such copyright in them. In particular accessing such materials via links could be infringement and /or in breach of terms and conditions on publisher's sites. The implications of this decision are potentially of huge commercial impact on the media monitoring industry who are appealing it and on their customers who will potentially be at risk of action by the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) if they have not taken a suitable licence. It may well require them to change their business model in future and raises policy concerns about how strictly the law has been applied here.

Practical significance

The article summarises the arguments in the case and points out its implications for companies which provide media monitoring services and their customers. Unless the decision is overturned on appeal such customers will now require to ensure that they have appropriate NLA licences in place or they could be in breach of copyright law. The article will consider the practical implications of the decision more generally as well as for such companies and their customers.

Journal Article.  4044 words. 

Subjects: Arbitration ; Intellectual Property Law

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