Staying the right side of Copyright

Are you infringing copyright?

The excitement of seeing your business in the paper is one we all understand. There is a great story about you with a fantastic photo of you or your products. You want to make sure the world has seen it…. So what do you do? Clip it out of the paper, scan it and share it on your website, Facebook page and tweet it? If so, read on… as you are most likely infringing Copyright Law.

Digital Licensee StampCopyright Law in Australia

Our industry body, the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA), has provided this useful summary of Copyright Law for us:

Copyright subsists in all original literary and artistic works used or created. Newspaper and magazine articles have two relevant copyrights.

 First, there is the copyright written in the words written by the author. The author (or usually their employer) will own the copyright in these words.

 Secondly, there is a separate copyright in the typesetting and layout of the article, which is owned by the publisher.

 The copyright owner has a number of exclusive rights, including the right to publish, reproduce, alter and communicate the material to the general public. Generally, copyright is infringed if a substantial part of the material is reproduced without permission, in one of the ways exclusively reserved to the copyright owner.

 The test of substantiality relies on the quantity and quality of what has been used but quality is the more important consideration. Usually the reproduction of only a small portion of a newspaper or magazine article will not be substantial and therefore will not be an infringement of copyright. However, the reproduction of an entire article via email or on a website will be an infringement of copyright.

So, with this in mind what should you do?

  • Take extreme care that no articles or materials are on your website, or your Facebook page. The only exception would be if you have 100% copyright permission (including the appropriate license). If you have media clippings on your website or social media sites remove them immediately.
  • Review your media monitoring to ensure you have an appropriate license in place. For example, our clients at Hola PR to whom we provide media monitoring services all have a copyright license to enable them to receive clippings.
  • If you are going to share a news article, try and find the online version and just share the link to it on your website or Facebook page. If there is no online version you could simply point your customers and clients to the place where your article was written. For example, a Facebook status could be: “Did you catch the story about us on page 2 of today’s West?”
  • Make sure you also have appropriate licenses for stock photography, music, audio-visual, visual arts and radio too!
  • If in doubt, seek legal advice.



Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *