The first letter to Newspaper Licensing Ireland Ltd can be read here:
Women’s Aid have agreed to allow us to publish their responses in the hope that it may prove helpful to other non-profit bodies who may receive similar requests.
We have not charged any fee but if you feel like it, you can donate to Woman’s Aid to assist them in providing services to women who have suffered domestic violence
Our Ref: WOM001/01/SMcG
21st November 2012
Newspaper Licensing Ireland Limited
15 Clyde Road
Re: Women’s Aid
We refer to your letter of 23rd May 2012, in response to ours of 10th May, 2012. We note that your primary consideration in that letter appears to be unhappiness that we sought to make our own correspondence with you (but not your replies) public. We believe the subject matter of this correspondence is a matter of public importance.
Our client is engaged in not-for-profit work of the greatest importance to the most vulnerable of women. It is our view that the position adopted by your members has very low social utility. We also doubt that your members will facilitate any robust treatment of that position in the newspapers they control. These are private views but it is views like that that go to make up the public space that ultimately is organised by “politics”. We do not seek to impose any political view on you or your members but we decline to ignore that dimension entirely and in publishing our side of the correspondence express our view, or point to it, without making it the justification of our position.
We are instructed by our clients that following our letter of the 10th May 2012 you continue to contact them and to seek to “discuss” the matter. There is, in fact, nothing to discuss. Our letter of 10th May, 2012 sought two quite specific pieces of information:
- Whether the copyright in the articles in question was owned by newspapers or by authors, and if the latter, whether you are authorised by the said authors to license their work.
- Under what statutory provision you sought to require a license for linking to materials published on newspapers’ websites
Your letter of 23rd May, 2012 failed to answer either of these questions. In respect of the former question, you refer to section 23 of the Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000 and state that it has no relevance. We fail to see how a provision that “The author of a work shall be the first owner of the copyright” can be irrelevant to the instant case, and believe that your assertion of such irrelevance is simply an attempt to ignore an inconvenient legal reality.
In respect of the latter question, you make repeated references to “clippings”. Our client, as made clear in our letter of 10th May, 2012, does not use newspaper clippings. You further assert that a license is required for the following: “Photocopying of newspaper articles, scanning of press clippings, the viewing of articles on a website hosted by a press cutting agency, the sending of articles to clients or other third parties”. None of these practices are or have ever been engaged in by our client, and we are at a loss as to why you have referred to them. The practice our client does engage in, linking to the websites of your members, thus driving up their traffic and advertising revenue, is nowhere addressed. We conclude from this silence that no license is in fact legally required for such activity.
We have a theory to explain the mistakes of your members; they succeeded in the past in extracting fees from “newspaper clippings” agencies and cannot reconcile themselves to the loss of that golden age. That they should fail to recognise the difference between such an agency and Women’s Aid is more a measure of desperation than the basis for a claim of right.
If your members were really serious in holding their position they would issue proceedings against Google. Google’s search engine is far more intrusive in its collations than the modest links of Women’s Aid. We know of no such proceedings by your members and anticipate none.
Accordingly, any further discussion of the matter is futile, as there is nothing to discuss. We ask therefore that you cease to contact our client, which finds your attentions an unwelcome imposition. Any continued attempts by you to contact our client would constitute harassment of an organisation that has neither a duty or the resources to reply to groundless claims.