Posts Tagged ‘fair use’


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.

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.

PR and Fair-Use: What Practitioners Should Know

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Crumpled Copyright

January 2013

As a PR and communications professional you’re no stranger to disseminating information to your constituents. What you may not be familiar with, however, is copyright compliance and the effects sharing protected content may have on you and your clients.

“Most blogs and online sources are subject to copyright and are not in the public domain. Fair-use allows for limited use of content with proper citation depending on the purpose and character of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, how much of the content is used relative to the work as a whole, and whether the use will affect the potential market for or value of the content. Who is sharing and using the content also is considered when determining if the use falls under the fair-use doctrine,” explains this Copyright Compliance Primer from BurrellesLuce.

In this newsletter, we will explore with you the 4 Ps of copyright compliance:

  • Proper Sharing
  • Proper Copying
  • Proper Citation
  • Proper Monitoring and Distribution

Read more on of this BurrellesLuce newsletter – PR and Fair-Use: What Practitioners Should Know.

The Changing World of Copyright Compliance

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Copyright

Free speech, copyright and the Internet seem to collide, but that’s because they are all still evolving. Dr. Patricia Aufderheide, director of the Center for Social Media, American University, gave guidance on this very topic during the AWC-DC program on March 19. She used an example from the 1860s, when a German translation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin was not covered under copyright law, but now would be covered. At the time, one-third of the country spoke German.

You need to understand how “Fair Use” can be used correctly, says Dr. Aufderheide. If you are “adding value” to the information and using it in a new way, then you are most likely covered under the Fair Use Doctrine. Using the entire work without adding valuable information, would be considered an infringement on copyright.  Generally, sourcing a portion of the information with a link back to the original document would be considered fair use, explains Dr. Aufderheide.

Many journalists say their use of information is covered under the First Amendment of the Constitution. What they need to understand is that First Amendment is a part of copyright law, says Dr. Aufderheide.

The protests over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) lead to more awareness of copyrighted materials on the Internet. Dr. Aufderheide believes the best way to address the issue is to look at business practices. She thinks that blocking domain names, which will work against security, is not a viable answer. She also says businesses need to find a way to let people use copyrighted material legally.

Pinterest and Copyright

Pinterest is fast becoming this year’s social media sweatheart. (Understand Pinterest and Your Audience.) Many PR folks have asked if the social media site is violating copyright. The answer is maybe. In a recent Mashable story, The Copyright Question: How to Protect Yourself on Pinterest, the authors suggest that companies should only pin their own content and only include content they would include on their website. While Pinterest does not own “everything posted on the site […] posting other people’s pictures without permission could be problematic.”

Resources
BurrellesLuce has many free resources in the BurrellesLuce Resource Center to help the PR professional do their job even better and offers a turnkey copyright compliance program to help clients remain on the right side of copyright law.

Has Copyright Infringement Prosecution Lost its Gusto?

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Steve Shannon
A recent headline on Bulldog Reporter “Mistrial Appeal Goes South for Recording Industry: It Appears Copyright-Infringement Movement May Have Lost Its Gusto” sure caught my attention. While the article is factual about the events in the case between the Recording Industry Association of America and Jammie Thomas, whom the RIAA is suing for copyright infringement, the headline itself couldn’t be more wrong. The copyright infringement movement hasn’t lost its gusto at all, and in an ever increasingly digital world, look for creators of original works to equally increase their efforts to protect their copy rights.   

The creation of content, whether it be by a well known rock band or a coffee house performer, a mainstream newspaper or an avid blogger, an established painter or one who aspires to become one, all have a common thread – they all either make their living creating that content or hope to make their living doing so. Without copyright protections, making a living creating and selling original works would be non-existent.  And so would the public’s enjoyment and benefit from top-notch music, news, art etc.

To that end, the copyright infringement movement is only beginning to gather its steam.  Don’t bet for a minute that creators of original works and industry groups like the RIAA are just going to roll over and see their hard work and investments of time and money given away. It always takes a while for law to catch up with technology and as long as there is money on the line, the law will indeed catch up to where the money and commerce is. Whether digital copyrights are clarified by case law, as the RIAA was attempting with the Thomas case, or by the passage of clearer laws on digital copyright, you can be sure this will happen.

In the meantime, it would be wise for in the public relations field to gear their use of copyrighted digital material (mainly news content found on the web) the same as they always have for any other copyrighted works. If you’re in PR, and not sure what the right manner is for the use the copyrighted works, the BurrellesLuce whitepaper “Copyright Compliance: What Every PR Professional Needs to Know” serves as a ready primer.  If you have any questions, and there are always lots of questions around this topic, please post them in the comments and I’ll be sure to answer them.