The body representing Ireland's leading newspapers was forced to defend the way it enforces copyright law on Friday after revelations that it charges websites that link to its articles.
National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI), which represents 16 of the most popular national papers, said it believed "that the display and transmission of links does constitute an infringement of copyright" under current Irish law.
However, it insisted that "there is a distinction between the sending and receipt of links for personal use on the one hand and the sending and receipt of links for commercial purposes on the other".
"NNI and its newspaper members never have had any difficulty with people displaying links for personal use," it said in a statement.
The row was sparked by the revelation that Women's Aid, a charity combatting domestic violence, had been told by an NNI subsidiary that it must pay 300 euros ($400) to display up to five links to newspaper articles on its website.
The fees relate to hypertext links to the original article on a newspaper's website, not a reproduction of the text—either totally or partially.
The case was highlighted by Dublin-based solicitor for Women's Aid, Simon McGarr, in a blog entry on Sunday entitled, "2012: The year Irish newspapers tried to destroy the web."
He said NNI sub-company Newspaper Licensing Ireland Limited (NLI) told Women's Aid that the rates increased to 1,350 euros for displaying 26 to 50 links, while the cost for 50 or more was "negotiable".
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