The Newspaper Licensing Agency, which licenses organisations to copy content from newspapers, is to extend the discounts it offers to charities.
The NLA is owned by eight publishers of national newspapers and represents 1,300 print and more than 1,000 web titles. It offers discounted fees to more than 1,000 charities on copyright licences, which allow them to legally carry out media monitoring activities such as putting links on intranet articles and sharing web links.
The NLA said today that it was to extend the discount scheme so that it also covered content from newspaper websites.
As a result, it said, the maximum discount for charities would go up to £390 and the extended discounts could be worth anything up to £500,000 a year for charities.
But Vicky Browning, director of CharityComms, a support body for charity communications workers that has been campaigning for an exemption for charities from the scheme, said that the sector still had to pay up to £1.3m a year to use it.
"We recognise that the NLA’s move to extend the discount to online content lifts a small number charities out of paying the licence fee, but the fee remains a burden on many other UK charities," she said.
"Our research shows that it typically costs £1 for every article copied, and the largest charities are paying more than £10,000 for media licensing. The highest charity fee is in excess of £30,000."
Browning said there were other problems with the scheme, such as its lack of transparency, that it forced local charities to buy national licences and that charities had to pay for content they had produced themselves as press releases.
"Charities are a special case," she said. "They are not private, profit-making businesses; they do not use press monitoring for any profit-making activities. As such, CharityComms believes they should be exempt from media licensing fees."