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Newspapers defend their right to protect copyright on web

The display of links to online newspaper articles is "an infringement of copyright" when it is done for commercial purposes, the National Newspapers of Ireland group has said.

The group has moved to deny claims that Irish newspapers are trying to charge people to display 'links' to articles.

However, the NNI reiterated its stance that it believes hyperlinks to its member sites are a breach of copyright unless the links are for personal use or a licence is sought to do so.

In a statement released yesterday, the NNI said its members "have never objected to their newspaper content being used by others for personal use".

But the group -- which represents 16 national daily, Sunday and weekly newspapers, including the Herald, and 25 local and regional newspapers -- has clarified that a copyright licence is needed where those links are used for commercial purposes.

In the statement issued yesterday, the group drew parallels between the newspaper industry's links issue and that of the music industry, which is protected by copyright

"Our members have never objected to their newspaper content being used by others for personal use," said an NNI spokesperson. "It is only where such content is used for commercial purposes that a copyright licence is required,"

The NNI issued the clarifying statement following the topic of links and copyright in Ireland leading one commentator to pen a controversial article in US business magazine Forbes.


The piece -- written by Englishman Tim Worstall -- ran under the headline "It would have to be the Irish newspapers trying something insanely stupid like charging for links to websites".

Mr Worstall said by way of explanation that the English have "told Irish jokes for generations, in much the same way that the Swedes do about the Norwegians, Americans used to about Poles and the Irish themselves do about those from County Kerry", and that it was considered "not really on these days to tell such jokes".

"But then a group of Irishmen do something so absurd as to make it almost impossible not to mention this background," Mr Worstall wrote.

When contacted by the Herald he denied he was being racist with his comments.