Charity asked to pay for links to newspaper websites

A copyright licensing agency has told a domestic violence charity that it requires a paid licence to link to newspaper articles from its website.

In an email sent to Women’s Aid, Newspaper Licensing Ireland said that “a licence is required to link directly to an online article even without uploading any of the content directly onto your own website”.

The email was sent in response to questions from the charity, which says it does not retain newspaper clippings or scan articles, but does post links to stories of relevance published on news websites.

Dublin legal firm McGarr Solicitors have written to Newspaper Licensing Ireland on behalf of the charity seeking further clarification, and published the letter on their website. The solicitors website says they have not charged any fee to write on behalf of Women’s Aid, but provides a link for any readers who wish to make a donation to the charity.

Newspaper Licensing Ireland was set up in 2002 “to enable companies to photocopy and/or scan information from all of Ireland’s national newspapers” and is registered in the Register of Copyright Licensing Bodies in accordance with the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000.

“Seeing as we got a letter from a solicitor I’m not going to comment on a letter,” said Frank Cullen, chief executive officer of Newspaper Licensing Ireland. “I’ve given it to our solicitor to prepare a reply and we will reply.”

“We understand Women’s Aid is making copies of newspaper content and that copying requires a licence.”

Mr Cullen was unable to say similar letters had been sent to other charities.

A spokesperson for Women’s Aid said the charity had not yet received a reply to the letter sent by their solicitors. The organisation hoped that by making the letter public it would highlight the issue to other charities.

Newspaper Licensing Ireland operations manager Owen Cullen said the organisation licenses commercial newspaper content in Ireland.

He said there was a difference of opinion on whether hyperlinks to web addresses were copyrights, and although there were no cases in Ireland, there had been cases

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment on a specific case as its ongoing.”

Image via Morguefile

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.


  1. There is no “difference of opinion”. Linking to a page on the internet is not copyrightable. If it were, search engines would have to pay royalties to every website. Lawyers have tried this before, usually the threat of legal action and fear is enough to get the links paid for, but whenever these cases go to court, they have been thrown out.

    There may be a question around whether a website can request another remove links (e.g. a school may request that a porn site remove links to the school, for obvious reasons and some not-so-obvious reasons, such as search engine optimisation penalties. But I’m not aware of any cases of this happening, or what the outcome was)

  2. can we seee some of these links in place on the website.

    the INL _business developement_ guy, just didn’t address the point at all.

    I search for the “by permission of INL” and heres an example of an organistaion that uses them they are republishing articles from newspaper but why, why not link to them, but then if linking to anything but the frontpage is fobidden… creating unnecessary business.

    terms and conditions foor INM say two things

    Copyright and Reproduction Notice and Limited Licence
    says grant permission to link to anywhere within site

    Software Limited Licence
    says must have written permission to link to other then frontpage, < is that within (desktop) software

    and there the issue of charging people sharing article across intranets.

  3. If the newspapers that this organisation represents don’t want links, then link to a different newspaper that carries the story, instead. Give someone else the traffic and advertising income.

  4. So I’m guess all of those share button on every story are an attempt to trick Facebook, Google and their ilk into forking over cash for linking to them.

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