What You Need to Know About Copyright Compliance in 2014

January 6th, 2014
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MusesTouch - digiArt & design www.musestouch.me

MusesTouch - digiArt & design www.musestouch.me

What happens when the copyright protections expire for well-known works of fiction? Last week a federal judge ruled that, since such protections of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series have expired, no permission or licensing fees are

necessary to depict the infamous detective, as long as that depiction doesn’t include the 10 stories that are still protected.

Of course, the case is filled with nuances, as most copyright cases are. But at the beginning of 2014, it brings back to the forefront the issue of copyright, an issue that PR pros can’t afford to ignore. Sure, you’re probably not planning to depict the early Sherlock Holmes (though if the appeal holds, you could), but if you’re measuring your media exposure, it’s something you have to account for, because it’s easy to unknowingly expose you or your organization to a copyright suit.

Because when it comes to media monitoring and press clippings, that content isn’t free. For example, if your organization is prominently featured in a national newspaper, you can’t reproduce the article and give out copies to attendees at a conference, or scan it and send it to all your clients, prospects, colleagues, and friends. You can’t even post the entire article on your website. For all these situations, you need to obtain the explicit permission – and in many cases, pay a licensing fee directly to the publisher – for the privilege.

What makes copyright situations most confusing is that there’s no hard and fast rule about what or how much, exactly, you can distribute or reproduce. You’ve probably heard the four pillars that determine whether something falls under fair use, but we’re going to reiterate them for you again:

  • The purpose and character of the use
  • The nature of the copyrighted work
  • How much is used relative to the copyrighted work as a whole
  • Whether the use will affect the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

As the case of the Associated Press versus Meltwater made clear, aggregating news content without paying a licensing fee to the content creator violates copyright laws. So whether you’re looking into a media monitoring service, or have been using the same one for a while, it’s time to ask some questions about how the service stays copyright compliant.

BurrellesLuce is a curator, not an aggregator. We have long supported making commercial use of news content and establishing agreements with publishers to pay them royalty fees. This means our clients never have to worry about whether their content is compliant or not – we make sure it is.

Of course, our clients and all PR pros need to be aware that after you obtain your news clippings, sharing the entire scanned clip on social media or a company blog is not copyright compliant.

The digital copyright adventure continues full swing in 2014, so check back with us throughout the year for more insights and changing rules in the copyright landscape. For more information about copyright  compliance, check out our white paper and our CAP FAQ’s.

One Response to “What You Need to Know About Copyright Compliance in 2014”

  1. […] law is incredibly complex. Adding to that complexity is the fact that most of the laws governing copyright were written long […]

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