News leech loses appeal on High Court copyright case
Attention scrapers: Headlines are copyright
Commercial news parasite Meltwater has lost an appeal in the High Court against the newspaper industry. The company provided a commercial headline-scraping service to clients in PR and marketing agencies. But a landmark judgment in the High Court last November decreed that it would require a licence, ruling that newspaper story headlines were effectively separate literary works.
The Public Relations Consultants Association, formed from Meltwater customers, took the ruling to the High Court. There they were pitched against all the UK's major newspaper groups except News International, alongside the Newspaper Licensing Agency.
The Court of Appeal upheld the original ruling yesterday [here]. Headline aggregators will now require a licence – the cost of which will range from £58 to £500 per year. The ruling applies only to commercial operations; it won't affect individuals.
In an interview, David Pugh of the NLA said publishers can now be sure of fair royalties, and rival monitoring services can benefit from "a level playing field".
Claims of "fair dealing" were rejected by Lords Jackson and Elias. They rejected the PRCA's broad interpretation of the exemption, which is permitted for criticism, as Meltwater made no attempt to interpret or criticise the articles it scraped.
The Court of Appeal ruling upheld the view that "... headlines involve considerable skill in devising and they are specifically designed to entice by informing the reader of the content of the article in an entertaining manner."
Some "vivid" examples were cited in court by James Bromley, MD of Mail Online. Although we'll wager they're not as distinctive as this one (check the subhead especially).
Or this one.
Or this one.
Or this one.
Steal our headlines, and you steal our souls. ®
ranging between £58 and an average of £500 per year?
What on earth does that mean?
I always thought an average was somewhere within the middle of a range.
Allowing copyright on such small fragments of text is not a good or sensible precedent.
The problem with judges deciding things is judges are all ex-lawyers and as such are biased towards decisions that increase work for lawyers. I'm not convinced - especially in light of my own experience in the High Court as a witness - that any legal decisions should be made without a jury.
Utterly retarded, more like
"In our business we need a system to scrape the headlines of news sites relevant to our industry so that we can flag them up to the sales guys as potential sales opportunities."
That's what many businesses need, and what they pay a small amount to get. Even a grand a year is less than a trip for one suit to go to a conference.
What you want is the service, but you don't want to pay for it. OK that's cool - there's nothing to stop you coding up your own site scraper for in-house use with a few lines of code.
If you don't write your own then pay up, monkey boy.
But don't make your laziness and ignorance into a moral right. We've seen right through you.