The UK's High Court has ruled that "headlines are now considered separate literary works, and thus subject to copyright, -- means clients of aggregation websites that charge for a service will have to pay for a license in order to use headlines, links and short extracts from online stories."
The ruling followed a legal wrangle between the Newspaper Licensing Agency, jointly owned by eight of UK's largest newspaper groups, and Meltwater, a "news crawler".
Press cuttings agencies pay NLA a fee for reproducing full-length articles. But Meltwater was unhappy that its clients would need a licence from NLA for the use of headlines and short extracts from stories in its aggregation service.
Meltwater said "simply browsing copyright-protected content made freely available on the internet will infringe copyright if it's read without a rightsholder licence. We believe that browsing content made available on the internet shouldn't infringe copyright."
"We estimate the total UK market for online news monitoring to be worth around £10 million. As newspapers' content is central to the market, we believe publishers should earn a fair share of revenues from paid-for monitoring," said David Pugh, md NLA.
Meltwater indicated that it would appeal against the decision.