Archive for ‘Copyright’:


Copyright: Understanding Fair Use

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

While this AMEC North America Measurement Week webinar was the first of the series, it will be my final recap post. I saved the best for last!

International AMEC board member, and License League COO Dan Schaible led this #AMECMM webinar to help us understand the complexities that surround copyright in the digital world we live in today. Copyright Fair Use

Dan began with referencing a portion of United State Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Congress shall have the power… “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries”. This is what sets up what copyright is, however in that statement is an inherent conflict, Dan commented.

We are all pretty familiar with the concept of Title 17, Subsection 106 of the United States code. This is the part that grants the owner of the copyrighted work the exclusive rights to do and authorize reproductions, copies, derivatives, etc.  However, it’s Subsection 107 that tends to create confusion—the limitations on exclusive rights—fair use. There are four specific factors, that work together, which must be considered to determine fair use.

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

I can relate if you’re thinking, “I’m not a lawyer, how am I supposed to be expected to interpret this?” Legal-ese makes my head spin, but the way Dan explains it, with the examples he uses, helps it all to make a little more sense so I highly recommend you check out this short (under 30 minutes) webinar replay.

He focuses on the two points that we, as PR professionals, are most likely to be affected by. In addition, he references two specific copyright-specific court rulings on recent media monitoring cases. (Side note: BurrellesLuce has a copyright compliant article program and agreements with most major publishers as well as individual titles.)

  • Purpose and character of use. Dan says the real defining question is: is the content used in a different manner or for a different purpose from that which was originally copyrighted? He read a portion of a 1990 legal article, written by two judges, dealing with whether the use is “transformative” (which is a valid defense). There is a lot of gray area here and it’s no wonder there’s so much confusion surrounding fair use! Dan claims that fair use is part of the law but some claim it’s only lawful in that it offers a defense to the end user should the use be challenged by the copyright holder.
  • Effect of the use upon the potential market or value. This is a little easier to understand. Dan says the defining question here is: what is the effect of the use on the copyright owner’s ability to exploit the value of their original work.  In other words, is how you’re using it taking potential money out of the owner’s pocket?

Dan cautions that fair use is based on market conditions—as the market changes, so may the judicial rulings.

Webinar moderator, Johna Burke, who’s also AMEC North American Co-Chair and BurrellesLuce CMO, wrapped up with questions to Dan from the participants. He finished-up with some straight-talk about why you need to know these things, the most compelling of which was “so you don’t get sued” (but he had a lot other great answers as well).

I’ve enjoyed learning more about measurement (and copyright) the past couple weeks and hope you have too! As always, please feel free to share your thoughts and/or experience with others here in the comments section.

How Do I Monitor Content Behind the Paywall?

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014
flickr user Horia Varlan under CC BY license

flickr user Horia Varlan under CC BY license

With the financial struggles of news organizations and the proliferation of free online content, paywalls are becoming commonplace. But how are you going to see all your coverage once all publications go paywall? As publishers have found new ways of monetizing their content, if you can’t get behind the paywall, it’s trickier to fully monitor your media mentions. As a monitoring service with licensing agreements, we are comprehensive and don’t face the legal woes and challenges of some aggregations services.

The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) has even devised a new initiative to ensure companies are properly accessing content, and in case anyone thought the industry wasn’t taking this seriously, they’re even offering anonymous rewards of up to $1 million to those who report illegal use of content.

But how are public relations practitioners supposed to get a comprehensive picture of their media coverage if they can’t see what’s behind the paywall?

Enlist a media monitoring service that has licensing agreements with publishers.

Services like BurrellesLuce that have a turnkey copyright compliance program ensure users see the full picture of their coverage by providing content from behind the paywall that other services can’t access. To name just one example, our agreement with The New York Times means that our users are the only ones seeing all channels of their content. We have long supported publishers by ensuring fair use, via royalty fees, of their content within the public relations community.

Why is it so important that PR pros choose a service with licensing agreements? Because you want service you can count on, both in knowing that the provider can alert you to all content about your organization and that you don’t have unnecessary liability exposure. You also don’t want to leave yourself or your organization vulnerable to legal action for distributing content without proper licenses (review our post about what you need to know about copyright compliance for more on how).

It’s also important to choose a service with licensing agreements because public relations relies heavily on the media to help get out messages, reach an audience, and tell a story. For all of our talk of community, each time we copy and use an article without consideration for the author or fair use, are we being true to our cause, or are we being pirates?

How has your organization dealt with licensing and compliance, and what further steps are being taken to ensure compliance?

Blogging, Copyright, and How to Attribute Images

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014
by flickr user opensource.com under CC BY license

by flickr user opensource.com under CC BY license

I’m teaching a class on blogging this semester at Southeast Missouri State University. As we discussed the importance of images in blogging and storytelling, I told the class, “Just because it’s on the Internet does not mean it’s free!” I explained that you must attribute any image you use back to its origin.  Unfortunately, that was not explanation enough and apparently caused confusion.  As I struggled to explain more thoroughly, I thought there have to be others out there with this same perplexity!

“The law automatically grants full “copyright” over any creative work a person makes unless otherwise stated.

Copyright law is incredibly complex. Adding to that complexity is the fact that most of the laws governing copyright were written long before the World Wide Web. Regardless, here are some tips and best practices.

If you are unwilling or unable to pay copyright royalties, you have essentially three options:

1. Use free public domain images.

2. Use Creative Commons® images.

3. Use your own photos or use images you’ve created (from scratch—you cannot modify someone else’s image and call it your own)

Public Domain

Copyright.gov explains that a work of authorship is in the public domain “if it is no longer under copyright protection or if it failed to meet the requirements for copyright protection. Works in the public domain may be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner.”

These types of images are ideal for blogging or educational use.  Works may also be public domain if their copyright has expired or if they are uncopyrightable. Even public domain images should be attributed to and linked back to the source. Two sources for finding public domain images are The Public Domain Review and The Getty Open Content.

Creative Commons

If you can’t find public domain images that fit your needs, you can use Creative Commons-licensed images – as long as you correctly attribute according to the terms of the license under which the image is offered.  Some Creative Commons images only require attribution and link-back, others are only available for non-commercial use, or may be used but not altered. This infographic by adityadipankar is a great “crash course” in Creative Commons:

What is Creative Commons?

by Folography.
Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

There are a number of sites where you may find usable images.  Creative Commons and Wikimedia are two.  My personal favorites are Flickr and Google Images—but you have to filter on only those with a creative commons license. For example, on Flickr it’s at http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/ but on Google, you have to go to the advanced image search and scroll down to “usage rights” and choose “free to use or share.”  Keep in mind, Google protects itself with the warning:

BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Image Attribution Google

So, you found a usable image but aren’t sure exactly how to properly attribute the photo? This blog post (by Peter McDermott) does a great job of explaining and demonstrating:

The bottom line when looking for images to use in your blog posts (or web page, portfolio, etc.)… as Benjamin Franklin said, “When in doubt, don’t! “

What sources do you use for finding images? What advice would you add?

This Week’s Shot of Fresh: International Intellectual Property, SCOTUS to Rule on Broadcast Copyright, and Building Brand You

Friday, March 14th, 2014
flicr user wwarby under CC BY license

flicr user wwarby under CC BY license

Shot of Fresh is our weekly roundup of Fresh Ideas content.

U.S. Copyright Compliance Eyes Asia-Pacific

Enforcing copyrights and intellectual property protections isn’t just a domestic issue – it’s an international one. The Trans-Pacific Partnerships is a push to close the gaps on international property that could strengthen U.S. copyright protections in 12 countries.

Broadcast Copyright Case Headed to Supreme Court

Not just another hot news misappropriation case – this one deals with broadcast and it’s going all the way to the Supreme Court next month. Hold onto your copyrights, folks; SCOTUS’s decision could make for a bumpy ride.

Building Your Personal Brand

You aren’t just you anymore – you’re your own brand, so you’d better start promoting yourself like one. Tressa Robbins has excellent tips from St. Louis PRSA’s Career Development Day.

Broadcast Copyright Case Headed to Supreme Court

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014
flickr user dbking under CC BY license

flickr user dbking under CC BY license

There’s yet another news aggregator copyright case to keep your eye on – and this one will be in the Supreme Court. In 2012, ABC (American Broadcasting Companies, a consortium of television broadcasters) filed suit against Aereo, a service that transmits over-the-air TV signals using tiny antennas that allow users to watch online streaming broadcasts. Aereo subscribers pay a monthly fee, but Aereo has no paid licensing with broadcasters.

ABC v. Aereo seems like another of the many publisher-versus-aggregator news appropriation cases we’ve covered, only this time it’s broadcast television. The case has been going on for a while, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on April 22.

The most recent press has been full of support for ABC; both the U.S. copyright office and the Department of Justice filed an amicus brief stating that Aereo is infringing on broadcast copyright. Add to that two of the nation’s foremost legal experts on copyright law, UCLA School of Law professor David Nimmer and UC Berkeley School of Law Professor Peter Menell also filed a brief in support of the broadcasters. And then add the amicus brief filed by the National Football League and Major League Baseball, who receive about a hundred million dollars from broadcasters for licensing from cable in addition to potentially billions of dollars in retransmission fees for sports rights.

One would think things were looking good for ABC, but keep in mind that in the initial case in March, 2012, the judge ruled in favor of Aereo, a ruling that was upheld in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Without delving into all the legal rules and technical precedents, this is an interesting case because while it looks like classic publisher-vs-aggregator, the fact that it’s broadcast (which has had to deal with the advent of Beta Max, VCRs, and DVRs) and not written-word news content makes this an entirely different ballgame.

What does that mean for the PR pro? It means that despite the abundance of copyright cases and rulings, copyright is still a convoluted issue, and it’s still of the utmost importance to understand not only fair use, but other copyright implications as well. It’s also yet another reminder that though licensing may seem expensive, it’s important and vital to our industry that relies so heavily on media content and the continued success of media outlets.

It will be interesting to see how the case plays out and how the Supreme Court rules, but either way, the ruling could spell out a new future for broadcasting and copyright.