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


New EU cookie law takes the biscuit

April 25, 2012

This morning, an estimated 90% of websites across the EU became illegal under EU law, thanks to an incredibly dumb piece of legislation requiring all websites to ask permission from visitors to store information about their visit on their computers in the form of a cookie. Even more incredible – the law also applies to every single website in the world that can be viewed from within an EU country. So that’s just about every single website on the internet – around 644 million sites at the last count – outlawed at a stroke. Here’s a short video from that explains the main features – and failings – of this bodged legislation.

The law was intended to protect user privacy, but in process of achieving this it has effectively dealt a hammer blow to businesses. Simply put, according to the IT guys virtually every website uses cookies. But to find out whether yours does or not, you’ll probably need to hire a web developer, who will then charge you to add an intrusive pop-up on your webpage which blocks the visitor from viewing your site until they have clicked on a link to explicitly give their permission for the use of any cookies that your site uses, or may use in the future.

So you have the expense of the additional web development work, the result of which is to erect a barrier across the front of your web presence that prevents the casual browser delving further into your site. All that money you spent on SEO? well that’s just toast now because the casual visitor arriving from a search engine will be prevented from seeing that content. Web browsers will once again be plagued by pop-ups and check boxes preventing easy traversing of data.

The effects on site traffic will be dramatic: It’s been reported that traffic on The Information Commissioner’s Office website dropped a staggering 90% when they implemented their EU compliant site.

Oh and did I mention? Failure to comply will result in a £500,000 fine. Yes, you did read that right.

It is difficult to imagine a more ill-conceived, unworkable and downright stupid law. If you want to have your say, you can sign the UK government petition to help get this ridiculous law reviewed

When it’s time to take off the gloves

March 2, 2012

PR is normally about cultivating relationships and generating a rapport with your audience. It’s not normally the right thing to do to assume a confrontational stance. But sometimes, if you need to create change or make a point, it is. Sometimes – as Alistair Campbell famously once did when he took on Channel 4 News in a live unscripted broadcast – it is in the client’s interest to go on the offensive and say what needs to be said.

Last year, the government launched an initiative called Make it in GB, aimed at promoting UK manufacturing. Certainly a worthy and much needed cause. As the PR agency for one of the UK’s largest manufacturing shows, we were pretty keen to offer our support – offering to make the show available as a launch venue for their campaign and giving them free access to our media activities. The response? "We’ll think about it." Regrettably, that’s about all they did do.

In fact, they didn’t even do that. After a sharp exchange of emails, I was called at the end of the first day of the show to be told that they were still "Having meetings" about participating. This was 3 months after the initial contact and when the event itself was already half over. I listened, open-mouthed, as I was told that we’d "Dropped off the radar". How could the one of the largest manufacturing events in the UK just "drop off the radar" of an organisation that exists solely to promote UK manufacturing? We were promised support – which turned out to be 2 tweets, neither of which contained a link to the show website – and the promise of a phone call after the event to discuss follow-up,  which never materialised.

Frustrated? You bet. Not on our account, nor even on behalf of the show organisers, but on behalf of the hundreds of people we met at the show doing fantastic work, who had worked so hard for success. They deserve support from campaigns like MiiGB.

It is not the place of government-funded campaigns to support private commercial enterprise. However it is the role of government to support business in general, and as was pointed out to the Make it in GB team, our objective was not to support the event as such,  but the 600+ businesses taking part. That was a fantastic opportunity for MiiGB to engage with 600 of the UK’s brightest and finest manufacturers – an opportunity totally squandered. This morning, having read another vacuous tweet from MiiGB about them "Looking for ideas how to support UK manufacturing", I thought it was about time we opened up the debate. Having Tweeted the fact that despite such fine words, they hadn’t shown much inclination to actually spend any time with manufacturers, I hope the message will hit home that there’s only so much you can achieve for UK manufacturers by Tweeting from your cosy West London office. I’m pretty sure there’s at least 600 people who’ll back me up.


Master Lock richt zich op gespecialiseerde veiligheidssloten

July 26, 2011

Het gebruik maken van retail hangsloten als persoonlijke veiligheidsapparaten is een verborgen gevaar op de werkplaats, zegt veiligheidsexpert Master Lock.

Master Lock Safety Series

Het fysieke versleutelen van de bediening van apparatuur of processen om te voorkomen dat deze worden geactiveerd wanneer personeel mogelijk gevaar loopt – een procedure bekend als Lock Out/Tag Out (LOTO) – is een veelgebruikte veiligheidsprocedure in industriële omgevingen. Maar een campagne die veiligheidsspecialist Master Lock deze zomer zal lanceren benadrukt dat als dit soort veiligheidsprocedures geen deel uit maken van een volledige veiligheidsstrategie, kwetsbaar personeel mogelijk niet volledig beschermd zijn.

Elk jaar gebeuren er duizenden industriële ongelukken in Europa, ondanks dat de meesten volledig voorkomen hadden kunnen worden door LOTO-procedures te gebruiken, die activering van apparatuur of onverwachte uitstoot van energie of chemicaliën voorkomen.

“De effectiviteit van LOTO-procedures hangen volledig af van de integriteit van individuele vergrendelingapparatuur”, aldus Kieran MacCourt, Europese marketing manager van Master Lock. “Een slot gebruiken dat gemakkelijk breekt of verwijderd kan worden zonder de originele sleutel, kan nog gevaarlijker zijn dan helemaal geen slot gebruiken, omdat het voor een vals gevoel van veiligheid zorgt.

In een campagne gericht aan veiligheids- en facility managers, benadrukt Master Lock de gevaren die personeel loopt bij het gebruik van goedkope retail hangsloten en persoonlijke veiligheidsapparatuur. Ook wordt er op gewezen dat de consequenties van het gebruik van zulke ad hoc veiligheidsmaatregelen fataal kunnen zijn.

“De meeste gangbare hangsloten zijn niet ontworpen of bedoeld voor gebruik in levensbedreigende situaties”, aldus Maccourt. “Industriële omgevingen zijn onveranderlijk gevaarlijk en veelvuldig gebruik van een hangslot in dit soort omgevingen zal al snel voor slijtage zorgen en dus kunnen leiden tot falen en mogelijk levensbedreigende situaties.”

De meeste hangsloten die ontworpen zijn voor binnenshuis of sporadisch gebruik hebben bovendien vaak relatief simpele vergrendelingmechanismen en slechts enkele sleutelcombinaties. Dit vergroot de kans substantieel dat het slot open gemaakt kan worden met andere sleutels dan het origineel. “Er zijn verassend weinig sleutelvariaties in de vele lokale hangsloten”, vervolgt MacCourt. “Ook zijn er weinig beperkingen wat betreft het kopiëren van sleutels. Zodra je twee of drie sleutels van een veiligheidsslot in omloop hebt is het hele systeem waardeloos.”

Master Lock’s assortiment van professionele LOTO-apparatuur is ontwikkeld om een simpel doch effectief veiligheidsbeleid te handhaven, dat ingezet kan worden in vele verscheidene industriële toepassingen. Deze zomer lanceert het bedrijf gratis gidsen op zijn website om veiligheids- en facility managers te helpen effectieve LOTO-strategieën te ontwikkelen en het gebruik van ongeautoriseerde sloten in veiligheidstoepassingen te beheren.

News Release

A successful Tweeting…

June 29, 2011

Probably one of the biggest debates in PR & Marketing is the effectiveness – or otherwise – of social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. In a previous post, I noted that research seems to indicate that 48% of private businesses are, if not actually users themselves, then at least ambivalent to the usefulness of social media in promoting their businesses. But what about in a more tightly defined demographic such as manufacturing? Two things that have happened over the last week have bought this topic to the fore.

The first was a survey by Lee Anne Orange from the International Machine Tool Show 2012 which we wrote about on our Southern Manufacturing & Electronics 2012 blog. In her informal survey of exhibitors, she found that the rate of adoption of social media channels in manufacturing is accelerating, yet is still a relatively small number in absolute terms. In total, around 20% of firms at the show use one or more forms of social media. So while that seems to indicate that there is still room for significant growth, their are many that remain unconvinced. One can only speculate what factors are inhibiting growth, but personally I suspect there are two main reasons: Effectiveness i.e. does it actually work? and Production i.e. who is actually going to write this stuff? For us, the question of effectiveness was answered quite conclusively this week in the second of our “social media happenings”

One of the hardest areas for PR to break into is the national media. This is particularly true for specialists like us who tend to work with b2b brands which are relatively unknown to the general public. Getting journalists from the national media interested in engineering and manufacturing stories is very hard work; that’s not a criticism as they have a completely different agenda to trade publications. But it’s none the less frustrating when our overtures concerning stories of genuine editorial value get passed-over because they are deemed too “niche” to be of interest. But we were surprised this week when a slightly sarcastic  (oops!)Tweet from us concerning the BBC’s lack of interest in grassroots manufacturing was answered in person by a well-known TV personality. This has led to a dialogue, which may well result in BBC TV covering Southern Manufacturing 2012! Hugely exciting for us and something we’ve been trying to achieve for the last 6 years. Time will tell, of course, but if there were any doubts remaining about the effectiveness of Twitter in reaching key journalists, they have now completely evaporated.

Centaur revenue up 15% as ad sales bounce back – Press Gazette

January 6, 2011

6 January 2011

By Oliver Luft

Business publisher Centaur reported this morning that group revenue had risen 15 per cent year-on-year in the first half of its new financial year.

Publishing a trading update ahead of interim results scheduled for 24 February, the company said it had maintained the strong growth reported at its AGM in November with group ad revenue increasing 17 per cent year on year in the period.

Centaur, which publishes titles including Marketing Week, The Lawyer and Creative Review, said it recorded a notable increase in recruitment advertising, which was ahead by almost a third, reflecting strong growth in the legal and marketing communities.

Excluding recruitment, Centaur said its strongest growth rates were achieved though web-based display advertising – led by financial product advertising for which revenues are more than 30 per cent ahead year-on-year.

Event revenues increased by around 13 per cent year-on-year, the company said.

Centaur revenue up 15% as ad sales bounce back – Press Gazette

JETRO survey points to rising confidence in European & US business for Japanese firms

October 21, 2010

Sep. 30, 2010

The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) today released the results of its latest surveys* on Japanese manufacturers in Europe and Turkey (hereafter “Europe”) and Japanese manufacturers in the US. Both surveys were conducted between July and August 2010, and 314 valid replies were received from firms in Europe (or 56.0% of companies sent questionnaires), while 806 replies were received for the US survey (68% of firms).
1. Outlook for 2010: about 70% of firms in both the US and Europe expect to post an operating profit
Against the backdrop of uncertainties in the US and European economies due to the euro crisis driven by Greece’s debt woes and the risk of a double-dip recession, about 70% of Japanese manufacturers in both the US and Europe expect to post an operating profit in 2010, largely on the back of increased sales.
Comparing operating profits for this year with a year earlier, the difference between ratios of firms citing “improved” and “declined” (by both firms in the US and Europe) was the largest in a decade. Looking ahead to 2011, more than 90% of firms in both regions expect profits to “improve” or “remain the same,” revealing a positive outlook for the economic situation rather than concerns over a possible double-dip recession.
Meanwhile, Japanese manufacturers and their counterparts in both the US and Europe are facing intensifying price competition. And while respondents have a more positive outlook for 2010, mainly due to increased sales, they still are planning retrenchments in personnel and management/utility costs.
2. Biggest challenges for firms in Europe: exchange rate fluctuations and price competition
More than 60% of Japanese manufacturers in Europe forecast improved business in 2010 (compared to a year earlier), showing a recovery in business confidence. Reflecting this, nearly 70% of respondents expect operating profit for 2010 (the third highest in the past decade), compared to 50% for 2009, showing that firms managed to prosper (i.e. increase sales), despite uncertain economic conditions. The majority of respondents have plans to increase local production in the next one to two years and also expand sales in neighbouring emerging countries, including Russia, which is on its way to an economic recovery.
Ranking at the top of firms’ management problems/issues were “exchange rate fluctuations” and “price competition with Korean or Chinese counterparts.” To counter these challenges, more than 40% of respondent firms plan to “expand local production,” and an increasing number are eyeing to “diversify or shift procurement source to China or other locations.” To reduce costs, a notable number of respondents said they would “hire executive-level personnel locally.”
3. While facing challenges such as price competition, manufacturers in the US are hopeful for benefits from the environment market and government policies to boost exports.
According to the survey, growth in capital investment and employment among Japanese manufactures in the US seems to be levelling off, suggesting that firms are still waiting to make their next moves, as the economic recovery gains speed. However, they feel the worst is over.
Management problems/issues cited most by firms included “lower sales due to price competition” and “cost increases due to yen rise and spike in raw material costs.” Firms expressed concerns over possible rising health care costs under the health care reform bill passed by Congress in March.
Firms seem mostly positive about the booming environment market, seeing opportunities in solar and environmentally-friendly vehicles, while others anticipate increased orders from local firms on the back of the Obama Administration’s export growth strategy.

JETRO Releases the Results of its Survey of Japanese Manufacturers in Europe & Turkey and the US – JETRO