Simpsons Solicitors

UK Appeal Court upholds decision on newspapers’ copyright

August 4th 2011

The UK Court of Appeal yesterday backed a High Court decision made in November 2010, which found that copyright subsisted in both headlines and extracts from various articles reproduced by the media monitoring company Meltwater.

The High Court case was brought by Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) against Meltwater News and Public Relations Consultants Association Limited (PRCA). However the appeal was brought solely by the PRCA, which argued that the original decision effectively required end users of media monitoring services such as Meltwater to get two licences for one act of copying.

The Court of Appeal rejected the PRCA’s argument with the following statement from the Chancellor, Sir Andrew Morritt: “In my view, the receipt and use by an end-user of Meltwater News will constitute an infringement of the copyright of the Publishers in either or both the headlines or the articles on their websites…It follows that…the end-user will for that reason alone require a [licence] to avoid such liability. That is the context in which PRCA’s submission must be considered.”

This case can be contrasted with the 2010 decision in the Federal Court of Australia in the case of Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd v Reed International Books Australia Pty Ltd [2010] FCA 984 (7 September 2010). In this case it was held by Bennett J that the presumption of originality does not apply to headlines, because they often derive from the body of the article. The headlines at issue in that case would not be given copyright protection as they were not original literary works, in the absence of specific evidence to the contrary. This case focused on the authorship of most headlines by sub-editors, rather than journalists. This case was not appealed by Fairfax.

To read the full text of the appeal decision click here.

For more information about this story go to: http://www.copyright.org.au/news-and-policy/details/id/1989/

For inquiries relating to publishing and copyright law please contact Adam Simpson.