Supreme Court supports PRCA and Meltwater in landmark blow in favour of internet freedom

April 29, 2013

Last week saw a monumentally important decision for the PR industry in the UK. The Supreme Court rejected an attempt by the Newspaper Licensing Authority (NLA) to make browsing newspaper articles online effectively illegal without paying an exorbitant "licensing" fee. Victory in the case, bought by Meltwater and the PRCA, means that the NLA has no legal right to claim copyright infringement merely for the act of browsing an article online, even though technically speaking the browser is making a copy of the article. The ruling will now go forward to the European Court of Justice for further clarification across the EU.

We are really happy about this as we have long felt that the attempts of the NLA – and indeed its sibling organisation the CLA – are nothing more than a thinly-disguised attempt to rip money out of people. Yes there must be protections in place for cases of genuine copyright infringement; but is it not the case that much of what ends up in the newspapers and magazines actually comes from PR companies in the first place? So how can it be right that we are being charged to view material we wrote in the first place! Not to mention the fact that without the efforts of professional and conscientious PR people helping to research and source material, the lives for many editors on the smaller trade titles would become impossible.

Here is the full announcement from the PRCA – well played, guys!

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.”

– ENDS –

Notes to editors

The Supreme Court ruling can be found here:

The PRCA contested at the Supreme Court in February the Court of Appeal’s decision (link) that 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


Time to weed-out those nasty bizspeak phrases

April 8, 2013

Language is a living thing; a constantly changing and evolving environment in which words and phrases spring into being and live out their lives. Some, like majestic trees, live long and grace the literary landscape with their presence. Others litter the ground like scraggly weeds, stifling clarity and choking eloquence at every turn.

Business writing – a soil particularly well enriched with taurine fertiliser – provides the most fertile environment for such unwanted invaders to take root. Bryan A. Garner, writing in the HBR, has been busy gathering handfuls of the worst offenders (as judged by numerous contributors) in an effort to put this rogues gallery to the scythe.

Bryan urges everyone to "Hunt for offending phrases: Start looking for bizspeak in all kinds of documents, from memos to marketing plans, and you’ll find it everywhere. " And when you do, pull it out by the roots!

Bizspeak Blacklist
actionable (apart from legal action)
as per
at the end of the day
back of the envelope
bandwidth (outside electronics)
bring our A game
core competency
drill down
ducks in a row
forward initiative
going forward
go rogue
harvesting efficiencies
hit the ground running
impact, vb.
kick the can down the road
let’s do lunch
let’s take this offline
level the playing field
leverage, vb.
on the same page
out of pocket (except in reference to expenses)
paradigm shift
push the envelope
pursuant to
putting lipstick on a pig
sacred cow
seamless integration
seismic shift (outside earthquake references)
strategic alliance
strategic dynamism
think outside the box
throw it against the wall and see if it sticks
throw under the bus
under the radar
utilization, utilize
verbage (the correct term is verbiage — in reference only to verbose phrasings)
where the rubber meets the road

Hunt for offending phrases: Start looking for bizspeak in all kinds of documents, from memos to marketing plans, and you’ll find it everywhere. You’ll eventually learn to spot it — and avoid it — in your own writing. You’ll omit canned language such as Attached please find and other phrases that only clutter your message.