09 Feb 2017

Here’s How To Stop Breaking Copyright Law (And Why You Should)

Copyright law.  Yaaaawn… right?

I know, I know. But stick with me because it’s quite likely you’re breaching copyright all over the place in your organisation.

  • Do you copy images from Google and send them to colleagues? You’re probably breaching copyright.
  • Do you scan newspaper articles to share with others? You’re probably breaching copyright.
  • Do you retype parts of a great Buzzfeed story to share on your Facebook page? You’re probably breaching copyright.
  • Do you take photos of PowerPoint slides when you’re watching someone make a presentation? Yep, copyright.
  • Do you reproduce graphs or diagrams from third party research reports to include in your plans and recommendations? You guessed it….

Many employees don’t realise they’re infringing copyright every day. Multiply that by the number of people in your organisation and there’s a tonne of potentially devastating infringements right there.

Guarding The Gate

In Australia, copyright is managed by Copyright Agency Limited (CAL), a not-for-profit organisation aimed at providing ways to reproduce, share and store creative content in return for fair payment to creators. The CAL focuses heavily on the PR, marketing and communications sector and there are serious penalties for businesses that infringe copyright.

One of the most obvious areas in PR is media clippings and how we use them, but it extends beyond that to any kind of content: imagery, text, music, maps, plans, broadcasts, charts/graphs or videos.  The creator automatically holds the copyright, so if you want to use it – in any form – you need permission or a licence.

Here Are Questions You Should Ask To Help Decide If You’re Copyright Compliant
  1. Are You Reproducing Any Coverage? This includes photocopying, scanning, recording, photographing or even copying by hand. You’re in breach of copyright if you don’t have express permission from the creator or a copyright licence to reproduce. Small parts of articles are included in this rule, not just full pieces.
  2. Are You Communicating Or Transmitting That Copy? This could be via email or fax to external clients or people within your own office. It could be posting it to your intranet or a public website; publishing it in a report or including it in a presentation. You need permission or a licence to do so.
  3. Do you or your agency pay a media monitoring agency? If you use organisations like iSentia or Meltwater for your clippings? If so, the cost per clip may or may not include a licence to share the information. It’s worth checking because your agency may be paying the licence fee to share the content with you, but not to share it within your business. Clients are generally not covered by their agency’s licence. Licencing costs an extra dollar or two per clipping, depending on how you will be using it.
  4. Do you store coverage? There’s a time limit, which varies depending on your licence. If you have press clippings stored on your server from years ago, you may be in breach of copyright – whether you’re an agency or the client.
Infringements Add Up

Many vendors require their agencies to provide copies of all results in the form of a media monitoring report or similar. Without the right licence, the agency is in breach of copyright if they make any type of copy. And that’s before they even send it to the client, which is another breach. If the client then shares that within the organisation or posts it anywhere, there’s another potential breach. Get the picture?

It’s a complex area and worth researching or discussing with your agency. Once you know where you stand, you may then need a conversation with CAL.

More information on your rights and obligations as an agency or client is available here.

More detail on licences is available here.

Or contact us for a chat.

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