A group ultimately representing Irish newspapers, including the Independent, Irish Times and Examiner has written to a charity, which has a website which linked to an online newspaper story, and demanded fees for the link! For those of you unfamiliar with “linking”, this is a link to the RTE News website. You’ll notice that the text is blue, not black and when you place your mouse cursor over the text, you get a little hand symbol which if clicked will bring you to RTE News. For most people using the Internet, this is familiar stuff.
But you won’t believe what comes next, and thankfully an Irish firm of solicitors has described it in detail here.
In summary, Newspaper Licensing Ireland – screengrab of website homepage above – which ultimately represents a number of Irish newspapers including the Independent, Irish Times and Examiner wrote to Women’s Aid, an Irish charity which helps victims of domestic violence, pointing out that the charity had provided information on its website and linked to stories in online newspapers, and demanded fees ranging from €300 for 1-5 links to €1,350 for 26-50 links. These were per annum prices!
Just for your information, this particular blogpost has so far included three hyperlinks!
Newspaper Licensing Ireland says of itself “Newspaper Licensing Ireland Ltd (NLI) is a dedicated collecting society that represents the copyright interests of Irish national and regional newspaper publications, including National Newspapers of Ireland”, it shares the same address as the National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI) and NNI members include most Irish newspapers including the ones named above.
It is unclear when the demand was made to Women’s Aid and what their response was. A copy of the demand and the response were requested but there has not been a response at time of writing, and to be honest, given the serious work undertaken by that charity, I was almost embarrassed to use their time even asking; nor has there been any response to a request for comment from NNI.
What is baffling is the business model for freely available online content generally hinges on attracting viewers and then selling that attraction to advertisers. Basically the more people who view free online newspapers the better for the coffers of the online newspaper. So demanding a fee from another website to increase your viewers is utterly baffling.
And whilst all of this might be a bit confusing in this age of technology, consider how many books and papers you have read in the past which have included footnote references to sources and sometimes bibliographies. What Women’s Aid did was apparently no more than the online equivalent of this. Perhaps the clowns at NNI will be writing to Google next charging Google every time it includes a newspaper hyperlink in its search results!