Internet Browsers rest easy—but the CJEU's answer to Meltwater was there all along

Internet Browsers rest easy—but the CJEU's answer to Meltwater was there all along

Ordinary end users who view copyright protected materials when browsing the internet can rest easy.

In Public Relations Consultants Associations Ltd v Newspaper Licensing Agency and others: C-360/13, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has delivered its decision in the long running Meltwater case on the remaining issue of whether copies of a webpage made on the screen and in the cache made by end users when browsing the internet fall within the ‘temporary copies’ exception of Directive 2001/29, art 5.1 (the InfoSoc Directive).

Meltwater—a very quick recap

The Meltwater group of companies, which includes the Meltwater media monitoring organisation (MMO,) provide a commercial media monitoring service called Meltwater News. The Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) accepted that its members required an end-user licence when their monitoring report was sent to them by email. A key issue in the High Court case was whether subscribers to Meltwater News required a licence from the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) to access monitoring reports available on Meltwater’s website, without which they would infringe copyright (specifically the right of reproduction). The argument was that infringement would occur because when an internet user views a website on his or her computer, without downloading it, the technical processes involved require on-screen and cached copies to be made. The High Court and the Court of Appeal thought subscribers did require a licence.

The PRCA’s appeal to the Supreme Court was based on the InfoSoc Directive, art 5.1—that making temporary copies of a copyright work, satisfying various conditions, does not infringe copyright.

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