Copyright Regime Must Safeguard Professional Journalism

Copyright laws must continue to protect news media publishers and other rights holders from unauthorised use of their content which undermines the production of professional journalism, the News Media Association has said.

Giving evidence  at a Business, Innovation and Skills Committee hearing on the digital economy this week, NMA legal advisor Catherine Courtney said it was vital that copyright laws protected news media publishers against free-riding by some news aggregators and websites.  

Catherine said: “Newsbrands are very much offering their content on a multiplatform basis. Newspaper publishers basically share the goal that’s driving the EU digital agenda. We want to create a favourable environment for a fully functional Digital Single Market market to flourish. Effective copyright protection is an essential requirement for this to happen.  

“We want citizens to be able to access content where they want, when they want, how they want, on mobile platforms etc, and we are committed to working with the UK Government and with the European institutions, on copyright reform and we are trying to strike the right balance because we want news media to prosper for the benefit of all the citizens of the EU.

“Obviously commercial newsbrands are witnessing quite significant ongoing structural changes and that affects the underlying financials of their business models.”

Catherine talked about some of the challenges facing the industry such as pressure on advertising revenues, adding: “Then there’s ongoing questions about the ongoing impact of off platform consumption of news media content, for example via Facebook, on the ability of publishers to monetise their content in this multiplatform world.

“Another major challenge is unlicensed republishing. In 2013 the NLA media access trialled a copyright infringement service that automatically polled search engines to see where text had been lifted from our websites. That trial identified about 800 examples of copying per day across the eight national newspaper titles.    

Catherine added: “It’s vital that copyright laws continue to draw a line between referencing content and unauthorised re-use of content.”