I have always admired the UK's Newspaper Licensing Agency for its self-assured composure in freshly applying last century's rules to this one. Now I know rules don't just expire, but equally, they don't just stay relevant untouched, and the legal underpin for the NLA's stance surely demands review. If 2007 marks the year music companies reviewed their attitude toward digital rights management, then it's time the NLA got real too.

But whilst we have been a NLA license holder for many years, it was only from reading a recent email sent by the NLA to a client that I was shocked to see the NLA want their cake and eat it.

Here's the scenario.

Agency X collects the opinions expressed by others about client Y; as any self-respecting PR consultancy would. They scan them for display on an extranet; as any self-respecting PR consultancy would. The client reads them on the extranet; as any self-respecting client would.

Now to many people, this is not a copyright issue. This is not copying original work for the sake of republishing it to the republisher's profit... this is simply logging a public voice contributing to an organisation's public reputation. However, I feel this point is too far removed from the accepted norm to spur support, so you should know this is not the point I'm making. I'm feeling only sufficiently brave to question the NLA's desire to tax us twice. Here's how...

The process described above requires both the agency and the client to have a license.

Now there may be associated activity for which this dual licensing could be justified, but my assertion here is that it appears dual licenses are required for the restricted practice described above alone. Can this be right? Isn't it all just slightly anachronistic? Or, more simply, just a bit nutty!