Double Dipping Copyright Fees

Chips and DipAt my core I am a rule follower. Always have been, always will be. However in order to follow a rule or set of rules they need to be logical or else I feel compelled speak up. Double dipping is one of those rules I follow without a second thought. Dip your chip once – finish said chip – use new chip to dip again. Simple!

Double dipping is not something you do in polite company – heck, it isn’t even something you do with friends. In business however double dipping is not only practiced openly it is upheld by the law of the land…sort of.

NLA-logo In the UK, the NLA media access Limited (NLA) collects fees from news aggregators as well as the companies using those services to view the news provided to them as part of the service. What? When you subscribe to a service like Meltwater News for example – Meltwater pays the NLA a license fee to provide you with their content. No problem there. However as a Public Relations professional subscribing to this service your company also has to pay a fee to the NLA to view and share that content within your organization, provided to you by your vendor. This is where the details make a difference. If you are a web-only consumer, meaning, you only view the content online and don’t share it…then no second fee is required. If you are creating newsletters to share relevant content within your organization – ding! another fee applies.

In Public Relations, Corporate Communications and Marketing – sharing news stories is essential. While I understand there is a need to protect copyrighted material I question why an industry which is struggling (publishers) to maintain market share and revenues seeks to penalize the very viewership they require.

In early June, a major ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union declared internet users who look at copyrighted material online aren’t breaking copyright by doing so. This ruling however makes no difference in the “double dip” fee the NLA charges – charging the vendor to provide the content and the reader to view it depending on the format in which is is delivered. Oh and did I mention the vendor can only scan and store the content for 28 days… I have to think there is a better way and publishers need to work with the media monitoring industry so both can benefit without making the customer eat a double dipped chip.


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