Tribunal to launch full investigation into aggregated online headlines

The UK Copyright Tribunal will launch a full investigation into whether aggregating online headings is a breach of copyright.

According to the UK Press Gazette, the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) thinks aggregated news headlines might be worth as much as £1 million a year to the UK newspaper business.

But the Copyright Agency has set a hearing for February 2011 after cuttings agency Meltwater intervened to become a test case for the concept.

The Gazette said that the NLA has already issued 200 licences to use aggregated news headlines at a price of £10,000 per year. That’s for headlines and standfirsts and hyperlinks. It’s estimated that PR firms and cuttings agencies already pour £20 million a year into the coffers of the British newspaper industry for full text articles.

The case has obvious implications for Google – its popular Google News service trawls for headlines and hyperlinks and aggregates them into a number of categories. The Gazette article is here – it has a link to the Copyright Agency adjudication.

British service has already had run ins with a number of publishers that have insisted their headlines be removed from the aggregator.