THE NATIONAL NEWSPAPERS of Ireland organisation (NNI) has said that it has no objections to newspaper content “being used by others for personal use”.
In a statement released this morning, however, the NNI reiterated its stance that it believes hyperlinks to its member sites is a breach of copyright unless a license is sought to do so, or if the links are for personal use.
The statement said that it was seeking to “clarify” the NNI’s position on the issue of linking to newspaper websites in light of negative international reaction and social media commentary sparked by an article by solicitor Simon McGarr entitled, 2012: The year Irish newspapers tried to destroy the web. In it, McGarr referred to Newspaper Licensing Ireland Limited (NLI) demanding payment from a charity, Women’s Aid, for linking to newspaper websites on its own site.
NNI today said that NLI is a “separate company” mandated by NNI members and some other newspaper publishers “to license third parties in relation to use of newspaper content”. It said today that:
NNI members never object to their newspaper content being used by others for personal use.
It also stated that it only approaches an organisation to take a licence for the republishing of newspaper content, including links, when “the organisation has also engaged, for commercial purposes, in some other ‘copying activity’ in addition to the display of links (for example, where the organisation has reproduced either the text of the article itself or an extract from it alongside the links)”.
However McGarr, whose company is acting for Women’s Aid in their correspondence with NLI, quotes an excerpt from one of NLI’s legal letters to the charity in which NLI states “a licence is required to link directly to an online article even without uploading any of the content directly onto your own website”.
The NNI also stated today that “the discussion which has taken place over the last few days has not correctly reflected our practice or views”.
It says that its submission to the consultation paper of the Copyright Review Committee which is currently examining existing copyright legislation in Ireland outlines its belief that:
The display and transmission of links does constitute an infringement of copyright and our existing copyright law should not be amended in the manner discussed in the Consultation Paper. We understand that some people do not agree with that interpretation of the law. Equally, there are others who do agree with it.
TheJournal.ie also made a submission to the consultation paper of the Copyright Review Committee. On the matter of hyperlinking, TheJournal.ie believes that “the absence of provisions about hyperlinking in copyright law as a serious barrier to innovation”. The submission added:
The ability to link from one document to the other gave birth to the world wide web as we know it – trillions of pages, publicly accessible online, all linked to and from one another. Links are essential to the content distribution business.
The Copyright Review Committee is yet to publish recommendations on this matter.