As someone with a foot in both the PR and SEO camps, I’ve been aware of the Newspaper Licensing Agency’s (NLA) licence to print money for sometime: I had the privilege of asking my clients to pay for future licences but also to make a historic payment for copies of paper coverage made before our licence was in place. Daylight robbery in my opinion but the agency I worked for back then had no option other than to tow the line.
My jaw hit the floor however, when I learnt about the details of the NLA vs. Meltwater & PRCA case. In particular the details that business users may need a licence to use media aggregators like Google News and Google Alerts, struck me as ludicrous and comical at the same time. Here are some immediate thoughts:
Finally there is Google’s involvement. To date, they seem to have kept stum but I wonder what the search engine itself makes of this. With the launch of Google+ and previously Google Wave (remember that?), the shared web seems to be very much within its sights but will the powers that be see an opportunity to grow its profits?
If the Supreme Court rules that business users do need a licence to use Google News and Google Alerts, how will this be monitored? Google obviously has its business users’ email addresses but I can’t imagine it will be happy or within data protection to share them. Indeed, what constitutes a business ‘user’ will be hard to police too.
A ruling will be announced in February 2013 but even if the Supreme Court’s decision favours the NLA, I suspect it will be sometime before the ‘Google’ aspect of the case has any real implications for UK business, due to the scale of policing required. And for me personally, it’s simply too Big Brother-esque to be taken seriously.