Thursday 17 March 2011

'Newspapers at risk if copyright law not enforced'

The national and regional newspapers industry has responded to the Hargreaves’ Review of Intellectual Property and Growth, launched by David Cameron last year, by warning that the press is at risk if copyright law is not properly enforced.

A joint submission from the Newspaper Society and Newspaper Publishers Association points out that UK newspaper publishers invest over £1bn per annum in developing high quality content which is republished across a multiplicity of distribution platforms.

They argue that this investment must be underpinned by effective legal protection "so that publishers can be confident of their ability to use and disseminate the content created by them and their employees in any appropriate way, allowing the freedom to innovate and develop".

The NS and NPA say: "In our view, copyright law remains fundamentally fit for purpose. We take issue with David Cameron’s premise that the fact that Google did not inaugurate its business in the UK can be ascribed to the UK copyright regime."

They also claim: "A thriving publishing industry depends on fair remuneration for use of creative and journalistic content. It is copyright law that allows for this, but without proper enforcement the industry is at risk. Without effective, enforceable IPRs online there is a risk that the ‘virtuous circle’ of investment, returns and re-investment will be undermined. We are concerned, for example, that currently the UK courts do not award damages sufficient to discourage misuse."

The NS and NPA argue: "More needs to be done to enhance the credibility of alternative methods of resolving IP infringement cases, such as mediation services or ADR. Curtailing copyright infringement requires a combination of proper law enforcement, technological measures and public education."

1 comment:

Kenneth J A Brookes said...

What a pity that the Newspaper Society and Newspaper Publishing Association do not properly respect the copyrights involved in their own publications. Between 1915 and 1989, newspapers were only entitled to the copyright in staff contributions for publication in Nespapers and other serial publications. For all other purposes the copyright was retained by the staff journalist. And yet newspapers purport to license such material for all kinds of other purposes, including republication on the Internet. I know of no instance where any working or retired journalist, or their successors (copyright lasts for 70 years after the deathe of the copyright holder) has received a penny of remuneration for such usage. Furthermore, when asked, some newspapers have said that it is impossible to identify the actual staff contributor in such cases. If so, then the item is an "orphan work" and under current law publication of the material other than in a newspaper or magazine is a criminal offence. Whilst supporting the NS/NSA campaign (initiated I believe by the Creators Rights Alliance) I suggest that it is time for these bodies to get their own house in order and stop behaving illegally. Kenneth J A Brookes, Copyright Representative, Chartered Institute of Journalists