Recently, the Copyright Agency has started fining PR agencies for posting media clippings on their websites and / or sharing clips with clients, without paying a copyright licence fee. Be aware—and be prepared!
by Diana Wolfe
An edited version of this how-to article was published in No Fussing About e-news on 1 February 2014.
Recently, the Copyright Agency has started fining PR agencies for posting media clippings on their websites and / or sharing clips with clients, without paying a copyright licence fee. Unbeknown to many, the copyright fee we pay to media monitoring services such as Slice does not entitle us to reproduce and distribute the clips, even to the clients who paid for the campaign. So whenever we happily report on our media campaigns (with clippings attached) to clients, we’re breaking copyright law.
While it may look like a money-raking exercise by the publishers and media, and PRs might be tempted to ignore the warnings, this is brewing as a big issue that won’t go away. No matter how large or small your agency, if you’re found to be in breach of copyright, ignorance is no excuse. Some agencies have already been fined thousands of dollars for past transgressions, without being aware they were breaking the law.
If you want to continue sending clips to clients (and how else do we prove the success of a campaign, apart from forwarding URL links to the stories online, which is legal?), you’ll need to buy a Business Copyright Licence through the Copyright Agency. You can purchase a pay-for-use licence or an annual licence, the fee for which varies according to how many employees you have, the number of clients you have, and the estimated number of clips you’ll forward to them each month. And you have to report annually on the clips you’ve forwarded and / or posted online.
You can opt to purchase a retrospective licence, backdated for the past six years, which is the statute of limitations for a publisher to take legal action under the Copyright Act 1968.
The Public Relations Institute of Australia is keeping its members abreast of the situation with webinars, podcasts, Q&As etc., and it’s also worth checking out the Australian Copyright Council website.
© 2014 Diana Wolfe. This article may be reproduced and shared in part or fully across any platform or media, provided the author’s name and business name (Diana Wolfe, Wolfe Words) is acknowledged.