NLA goes hell for leather to destroy newspapers online with backlink charging plan

(I know the site is still in a state but this is too important not to post quickly)

Now, here’s an interesting one, passed on to me by someone we shall call CIPRMole where basically the NLA (the Newspaper Licensing Association) want to charge organisations – starting with cuttings services then moving on to others by 2010 – for including links to newspaper stories:

The NLA has informed us that from 1 September 2009 it is introducing a new licence for web aggregator services (such as Meltwater News) that forward links to newspaper websites and for Press Cuttings Agencies undertaking this type of activity. From January 2010, the licence charges will also apply to PR practitioners and other organisations forwarding links to newspaper websites as part of their commercial activity. This will apply to almost all newspaper websites excluding News International titles and the FT.

I’ve dropped an email into the NLA, telling them about this blogpost and asking a few questions, but what I want to know is:

1) Are they targetting everyone with this? So every backlink to a paper is going to result in a charge?

2) Are they going to backdate the charging?

3) If they are only targetting companies and not individuals, why the discrimination?

4) How are they going to enforce this? Particularly on anonymous blogs or blogs hosted outside the UK?

5) Are they prepared to destroy the hits going to the newspaper websites while the BBC rakes in the hits?

6) Google Alerts and Google News are the biggest news aggregator that exist. Are they going after them or just small companies they think they have a chance of getting money from?

7) If they are collecting cash on behalf of the content generators – ie, the papers, will they put pressure on the papers to share that extra money with the original content generators – the news agencies and so on?

8 ) What about services like the Daily Dust and Net News Daily? Will you collect funds for them?

9) Do you accept that your actions may stop people linking to newspapers sites, therefore causing traffic to collapse, which could lead to more redundancies and potentially (when you factor in the decline of print editions) brands disappearing completely?

This idea smacks to me of the best of old-school thinking. I’m still processing it, so I’ll add more thoughts later, but I’d be interested in other people’s thoughts from both sides of the PR/Journalism debate as it affects everyone.

Tell you one thing, if it comes through I’d say to clients, to hell with going through NLA members, build your own networks, send your info out to interested parties and those that won’t cost you money. The more I look at this, the more it seems like the NLA wants to press fast forward on not only destroying print media but print media online too.