UK Newspaper Licencing Agency Says Musicians Need To Pay To Quote Reviews

from the live-by-copyright,-die-by-copyright dept

I wonder how copyright maximalist musicians feel about this particular story. Techdirt reader glassneedles alerts us to an offline (!?!) news article in the publication Private Eye, about how the UK's Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) has declared that musicians who quote positive reviews from newspapers need to pay £1,250 per year (which would allow them to quote up to 50 reviews). Seriously. Apparently, the NLA went around to various music agents and managers a while ago, and they (quite reasonably) ignored the threats. That just made the NLA mad.
... the phoney war has turned into a real one, with the NLA chasing agents, threatening legal action and demanding not just license payments for future quotes but also retrospective payments for past ones.

The amounts are crazily excessive for the modest, shoestring operations that most classical music management and PR companies tend to be, with £7,000-£8,000 a typical demand.
For folks who help market a number of musicians, the NLA claims are apparently adding up to being fairly serious.
The most outrageous example... concerns a small PR company called ElevenTenths, which is effectively one woman, Claire Willis, working form a spare bedroom.... Poor Ms. Willis was collared by the NLA a few months ago, required to fill in forms about her clients and activities, and then received a bill for £23,500.
Willis complained and apparently the NLA "backed down" and offered a deal for "only" £1,588.45. In the past, we had written about the NLA winning a lawsuit against news aggregators, so perhaps it's now turned to those who quote its reviews as a new, highly questionable, revenue stream.

I wonder if folks in the UK are regretting the decision, in the Hargreaves report, that the UK doesn't need an explicit fair use rule.

Filed Under: copyright, licensing, musicians, newspapers, quotes, reviews, uk
Companies: nla


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  1. icon
    Titania Bonham-Smythe (profile), 12 Nov 2012 @ 12:03pm

    Having briefly looked at their website I see that the NLA is a private company created by UK's eight national newspapers to protect their interests that arise from copyright law. They don't seem to have powers delegated to them by parliament. The thing that worries me is that I don't see what's stopping them from saying it's not just copyrights relating to physical newspapers - they also control rights relating to their online equivalents. And it's not just music, it could relate to any area of interest in which they publish. And why stop with PR agencies? At which point, if you Tweet the headline of an article from an online paper, then would the NLA expect to charge you for having published that Tweet?

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