Archive for ‘Copyright’:


U.S. Copyright Compliance Eyes Asia-Pacific

Monday, March 10th, 2014

BurrellesLuce US Copyright Compliance Eyes Asia-Pacific Fresh Ideas Tatjana JegdicA sweeping 12-country free trade agreement that is now being negotiated is much more than an attempt to open markets: It also has a significant copyright component. Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), in addition to opening the markets, represents an aggressive U.S. push to close the gaps in the intellectual property (IP) copyright and distribution protections.

The TPP’s IP/copyright agreement being negotiated could expand U.S. copyright standards to Asia-Pacific. It seeks to adopt US copyright restrictions on digital content for nations like Canada, Australia, Japan and North Korea. Ultimately, it could cover 40 percent of the world’s economy. TPP means PR pros face a future of an aggressive U.S. government push on copyrights internationally.

The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), the principal trade association for the software and digital content industries, is fully behind intellectual property rights in the TPP. SIIA encourages U.S. trade representatives to make the copyright portion of the agreement a priority, “Permit[ing] cross-border information flows, while ensuring that privacy and intellectual property rights are protected.”

The Intellectual Property Rights Chapter of TPP would have wide-ranging effects on publishers and internet providers. The TPP requires signing countries to protect a work, whether photographic, performance, or phonogram, for 70 years after the death of the person who created that work; for works by a “non-natural person” (whatever that is), the copyright be protected for “95 years from the end of the calendar year of the first authorized publication of the work.” Why does this matter to PR professionals? Because it extends the copyrights of intellectual property internationally, indicating just how seriously the U.S. government takes copyright issues.

Maira Sutton of Electronic Frontier Foundation says “copyright protections in the TPP would [also] empower internet service providers to police users’ internet activities [on behalf of publishers]. Therefore they could block or filter or even spy on users’ activities to supposedly enforce copyright.”

The Obama administration included part of the Stop Online Piracy Act legislation in the copyright chapter of TPP. SOPA, which meant to expand the U.S. law enforcement to fight online copyright infringement, was postponed by Congress in 2012.

If completed, TPP would remain open for any other country to join. Former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk has welcomed China’s participation. “The area of ‘intellectual property’ is the key to billions of dollars in exports to China,” Kirk said. And China has already started indicating interest in TPP. Chinese participation would be game-changing not only because of the size of their market, but also because their poor track record on intellectual property.

Copyright compliance is a major issue in media monitoring and news aggregation. Content curators like BurrellesLuce that provide copyright compliance as part of their service will only continue to grow in importance.

The international IP developments around the TPP might also mean that recent domestic and cross-border copyright infringement cases will increase and will have more legal enforcement teeth behind them. In January, Dow Jones & Co. sued London-based Real-Time Analysis & News Ltd., a financial news aggregator service known as Ransquawk, for illegal distribution of the Dow Jones content without publisher consent. This case shows that copyright enforcement activity is not only confined to the U.S. information industry, but also crosses international jurisdictions.

The Dow Jones & Co. v. Ransquawk case looks very similar to the AP copyright infringement lawsuit against Meltwater, which AP won in May of last year. In recent years, Dow Jones also filed and received large settlement claims from other “hot news” misappropriation lawsuits like that against Cision.

BurrellesLuce – a curator, not an aggregator – of content has been a long-time supporter of making commercial use of news content with licensing agreements that pay publishers royalty fees. For close to 30 years we have worked with publishers to provide copyright-compliant content. We launched our turnkey compliance program in 2008. We strongly believe that news outlets must be fairly compensated for their content.

With our industry-unique service, our clients never have to worry about whether their access and use of media content is compliant or not. Thanks to our agreements with AP and thousands of other publishers, our small copyright royalty covers PR pros so they can legally share and use our digitized print clips and online news clips.

How are you protecting yourself and making sure you are on the right side of the expansionist U.S. copyright law? Do you think the TPP will bolster U.S. intellectual property rights?

Good PR or Copyright Landmine?

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
A screengrab of Shirt's nytimes.la site

A screengrab of Shirt's nytimes.la site

Earlier this month, a rapper named Shirt wrote an article about himself, but he did it under the byline of Jon Caramanica, a New York Times critic and hip-hop point man. He also selected snippets of text from previously-published articles, rounded it out with his own, and posted on the site nytimes.la, which was designed as a pretty good doppelganger for the real Times site.

Not only did Shirt, who did the site design himself, use the Times masthead and design, he also used the Times’ headlines, content preview, and photos. Of course, it doesn’t look completely identical –  among other things, the margins are different, the text isn’t as clear, and in his article, he made the style guide faux pas of writing “e-mail,” not “email.”

The nytimes.la homepage is a giant hyperlink to the real Times site, but is that enough to make up for using the New York Times proprietary design, not to mention the reporter’s name?

In the context of achieving his goal – getting attention – Shirt’s stunt was successful. But where is the line between great PR and breach of copyright? And is it a breach if he linked back to the Times? As with all copyright issues, it’s a murky one at best, and terms like fair use and parody are likely to come up if action is pursued.

We’ve discussed before that the FTC does not like ads disguised as editorial content, but that is in the context of paid native advertising, which this is not. So in building his own version of the New York Times online, did Shirt skirt the issue?

Like most brilliant PR moves , Shirt’s article got him a lot of press attention that he hadn’t previously received (including this insightful article from NPR about the struggles of hip-hop musicians trying to get noticed and about how Shirt operates). Getting noticed is the underlying directive of PR campaigns, which Shirt obviously did successfully, but the other question is, when the conversation moves on, will the few weeks of media notice make any difference?

Yes, it was a pretty good stunt. But PR pros know that good PR is a continuing dialogue, not a one-off shout into the ether. It will be interesting to see whether there are any aftershocks from Shirt’s article, or whether it disappears.

Where do you think the line is between good PR and copyright breach?

Copyright Matters: Dow Jones Sues News Aggregator Ransquawk for Misappropriation

Friday, January 10th, 2014

Dow Jones Files Copyright Lawsuit Agains Ransquawk Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuceLast night, The Wall Street Journal reported that their parent company, Dow Jones & Co. sued Real-Time Analysis & News Ltd., a financial news aggregator service known as Ransquawk, for illegal distribution of the Dow Jones content without publisher consent.

Dow Jones claimed in its complaint that the London-based Ransquawk accessed the DJX newsfeed, which Dow Jones’ real-time financial news subscription service, and republished the content “verbatim, within seconds” of its publication. Ransquawk’s website says that it provides live news headlines in a 24-hour scrolling news feed, as well as real-time audio with breaking news and instant analysis, drawn from over 100 news sources.

In a statement on the Dow Jones Press Room, Jason Conti, SVP, general counsel and chief compliance officer, wrote that Dow Jones “refuse[s] to sit back when others swoop in to swipe our content.” He also claimed that Ransquawk is “systematically copying, pasting, and selling our journalists’ work.” There’s not much of a reply from Ransquawk; chief executive and co-founder Ranvir Singh said only that, “We obviously strongly deny any accusations made against us by Dow Jones … we will only be in a position to make a statement tomorrow.”

As we discussed on Monday, copyright compliance is a primary concern in media monitoring and news aggregation. This case looks to be very similar to that when the Associated Press filed a lawsuit against Meltwater for copyright infringement, a case which the AP won.

Why Ransquawk didn’t take notice then, we’ll never know, but they certainly shouldn’t be surprised at the lawsuit given that in recent years Dow Jones filed – and received large settlement claims from – other “hot news” misappropriation lawsuits against Briefing.com and Cision.

Once again, BurrellesLuce is not an aggregator but a curator, and we negotiate licensing fees with our providers to ensure our content is copyright compliant. We strongly believe that news outlets must be fairly compensated for their content, which EVP Johna Burke blogged about just three days ago. PR pros rely on content generated by high-caliber content produced by the AP, Dow Jones, and other providers not just for those valuable media mentions, but also for measurement purposes. In their need to be on top of the news, PR pros should protect the content they need and value by using services that respect and compensate the very publications that produce that content.

So many of us are committed to “community” nowadays, but where would the PR community be without journalism? Media and PR may be separate yet tandem communities, but they are part of the same ecosystem, and without balance on both sides, that ecosystem will crumble.

What You Need to Know About Copyright Compliance in 2014

Monday, January 6th, 2014
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.

BurrellesLuce Backs Media in AP Lawsuit

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

The advent of digital technology has created some pretty interesting debates over the fair use of copyrighted content and how publishers can be paid for their news contributions and protect their copyrights.

By violating copyright – even inadvertently – PR professionals can expose their organization, clients, and constituents to a number of liabilities. That is why BurrellesLuce has worked directly with publishers and other content providers (for close to 30 years) to establish use agreements that pay publishers royalty fees and allow our customers worry-free access to copyrighted content.

We are staunch supporters of commercial use of content with the expectation that those providing a similar services to ours should also pay for the use of the content. We are also long-time members of the The Software and Industry Information Association (SIIA) and believe that people, including PR and communications practitioners, should pay for commercial use of content. We have had a turnkey copyright compliance program in place since 2008 and we work to educate our customers on copyright compliance and the proper use of licensed content.

The same cannot be said for other companies in the media monitoring and evaluation space. Some aggregators, posing as monitoring services or search engines – depending on what best serves their position of the day – are not curating content, but archiving and hosting a database of publisher’s content. This creates challenges for PR and marketing pros, and some media monitoring firms expose their clients to potential liability.

At BurrellesLuce we curate content on behalf of our clients and charge a royalty. Those royalties go back to the publishers. PR professionals are understanding, more and more, why these measures are necessary. They recognize the difference between a genuine media monitoring service and an aggregator. They realize they may be exposing their organization, as well as their clients, to substantial copyright liability by using the latter.

The difference is best outlined in an article by Neiman Journalism Labs, which discusses the difference between search engines and aggregators.  A search engine, like Google and its “free” business model, typically provides links to the original content and pays a licencing fee to the copyright owners, while aggregators repackage the publishers’ copyrighted material, send it to their customers, and charge their customers without paying a royalty to the publishers.  As a genuine full-service media monitor, BurrellesLuce uses a business model that ensures that the publishers get paid for the use of their copyrighted content, and gives our customers the peace of mind that comes with compliance with the law.