The copyright extension goes on and on and on . . . .

Eoin Purcell

By now y’all must know that I’ve never been a big fan of copyright
Especially when it gets a life of its own and grows and grows and grows spawning agencies like this one: Newspaper Licensing Ireland Ltd (NLI). Their goal is put across fairly vaguely on their website:

Our purpose is to enable companies to photocopy and/or scan information from all of Ireland’s national newspapers, many of the regional newspapers and some foreign titles too and distribute it to others by issuing them with a licence. We are authorised by the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 (Section 39) and mandated by titles we represent.

With the establishment of NLI, you now have the opportunity to acquire a licence that will allow you to legally photocopy and/or scan articles or extracts from the above newspapers and send those copies to other people.

Can you guess the bit they leave out. Yup, its money alright! Basically they are looking to charge people to scan their newspapers and send them around the office or to clients. What I hear you say.

Yup they want us to pay for the pleasure of keeping on file references to our companies or our books or just for scanning and holding a story that we happened to like. It gets worse too. The license contains two of the more incredible clause I have read recently:

4. The Licensee shall ensure that the extracts are reproduced to a high standard of quality and shall as reasonably requested submit samples to the Permitted Licensor.

So if we pay the license it is OUR DUTY to keep these scans of good quality and they have the RIGHT to inspect them to make sure. What kind of madness is that! Oh but wait for the next one:

10. The Permitted Licensor shall be entitled to inspect the books of the Licensee on a quarterly basis, the said inspection to be carried out by a Chartered Accountant nominated by the Permitted Licensor to examine all books, documents and records relating to this Licence. The appointed Auditor shall be afforded reasonable access to the premises of the Licensee for the purposes of carrying out his inspection which will be carried out at a time that is mutually convenient insofar as is possible. Any Audits shall be at the expense of the Permitted Licensor and shall be subject to the reasonable procedural and confidentiality requirements of the Licensee.

Can you actually get over that. By signing that license you give them the right to inspect your books on a quarterly basis. For real! What planet was this devised on? See the whole thing TheLicense.

The basic License starts at €107 for small companies and that only includes national titles. If you want anything fancy like local oaoers and the UK newspapers as well it starts to clock up. The classic thing is that it’s also time sensitive. If you keep the scanned files for more than 3 months you pay extra, more than 9 even more and finally if you have the temerity to wish to hold them for ever the cost is higher still. Here’s a quick price list.

What gets me so worked up about this is that the type of uses most of the companies are involved in are so harmless that charging them is practically extortion. We are sent clippings which we use to update our authors and retailers about publicity, it is rare for us to send these scanned clippings externally. We also cut pieces put of newspapers and stick them in folders for reference ought we be paying for that privilege too?

When you realise that all these papers offer some kind of free sharing or e-mail service ont heir website it becomes even more ludicrous. I can share this story on facebook or e-mail it to dozens of friends but not scan it froma newspaper and store it on a computer file? As if having e-mailed it from Gmail and copying myself the effect is not the same.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, and annoying!