Linking to other Websites – Copyright or Wrong?

I was interested to read that the Court of Appeal in England has held that newspaper headlines may be protected by copyright and that accessing material via a hyperlink could amount to copyright infringement. I have recently advised a number of clients on the subject of internet hyperlinks. Providing and accessing links from one website to another is an integral part of modern internet life, but it can be problematic. Apart from anything else, some website terms and conditions expressly forbid the creation of links from other sites without permission, and so linking may be prohibited as a matter of contract. In the recent case (Newspaper Licensing Agency v Meltwater), the court found that a newspaper headline could amount to a literary work capable of enjoying copyright protection. Although this case concerned the use of headlines as links in the context of a commercial service, it serves to highlight the type of legal issues that can arise in the digital age. From both a commercial and a legal perspective, deep linking (where the home page of the linked site is bypassed) can be particularly unattractive for website owners, as key revenue-generating advertising and disclaimers will typically appear on the home page. Moreover, a deep link is perhaps more likely to lead a user to think that the content of the linked site is part of the linking site, which could cause damage to the reputation and brand of the linked site and its owner. In summary, care must be taken when dealing with material created by others and the potential implications of linking to and from third party websites should always be considered.

Kirk Dailly

Employer-Supported Childcare – Tax Relief

HMRC have updated their guidance on Employer-Supported Childcare to outline their interpretation of sections 35 and 36 and Schedule 8 of the Finance Act 2011 which came into force in July 2011.  The changes affect the tax reliefs available for Employer-Supported Childcare and are effective from 1 April 2011. 

The purpose of the change is to even out the amount of income tax savings available to all employees joining schemes regardless of the income tax rate that the individual pays.  The essential change is that anyone who joins an Employer-Supported Childcare scheme from 6 April 2011 will only get income tax relief at the basic rate.

However, if an employee was already a member of their employer’s scheme before 6th April 2011 and the employee’s circumstances have not changed, such employees will not be affected and will retain their current level of tax relief until:

  • they leave their current employment (but excluding a change of employer which is outwith the employee’s control, such as a TUPE transfer); or
  • they leave the employer’s childcare scheme; or
  • they receive no employer-supported childcare for a continuous period exceeding 52 weeks; or
  • their child no longer receives qualifying childcare; or
  • they no longer have a child qualifying for the tax relief, for example, they are older than the upper age    limit specified.

Under the old rules, employer-supported childcare is tax-free for the first £55 per week at the employee’s marginal rate of tax.  Thus a 50% taxpayer would get relief at 50%.

The new rules provide for restrictions which target employees who pay income tax at 40% or 50%.  The effect of the restrictions will be to ensure that higher-paid employees do not receive more from the tax exemption than basic rate tax payers.  To achieve this, the weekly limits on the tax-exempt provision of childcare schemes will be:

– £55 for 20% taxpayers;

– £28 for 40% taxpayers; and

– £22 for 50% taxpayers.

Thus, a basic rate employee receiving vouchers worth £55 is entitled to tax relief amounting to £11.  The lower weekly limits for 40% and 50% taxpayers ensure that they also have tax relief of approximately £11 (40% of £28 = £11.20, 50% of £22 = £11).

Jack Boyle
Employment Solicitor

The costly typo – changes to company names examination policy

With effect from 1 September 2011, Companies House will reject company names on documents which contain minor variations or typographical errors.  The only exceptions are as follows:

  1. “Co” may be used instead of “Company”;
  2. “&” may be used instead of “and”
  3. the word “THE” may be omitted, but only at the front of a company name; and
  4. certain standard abbreviations, such as “Ltd”, “plc” and “LLP”, will continue to be accepted.

The objective of the policy is twofold – (a) to ensure that documents are entered on the correct company record and (b) to reduce the current level of rejected documents.  Logic would suggest that tightening the examination policy will not reduce the number of rejections, but perhaps Companies House is hoping that everyone reading this will be that little bit more careful in future.

Entering the correct company name on a form may seem like basic stuff, but avoidable errors do occur and they can be costly.  For example, we have seen clients make elementary errors in relation to dormant annual accounts which have resulted in avoidable fines being levied.

So, don’t be another victim of the costly typo.  If your company requires assistance in its dealings with Companies House, we would be happy to help. 

Kirk Dailly