To help publishers better understand their rights as content owners, and the licensing opportunities they hold, we have created this glossary of terms for guidance:
“Copying” includes the photocopying, scanning, emailing, faxing and printing out of articles, whether for your own use, or to share with a colleague or a wider distribution list.
It also includes placing articles on a multi-user resource, such as an intranet or shared drive.
Copying may happen on an occasional basis or on a frequent basis –for example as part of a regular news feed, such as that provided to a client by a PR or media monitoring agency.
NLA media access sells licences for both occasional and frequent copying, and for hardcopy and digital content.
Copyright gives the owner the exclusive right over uses of their content, normally for a defined period of time. This right includes the stipulation that the whole or a “substantial part” of their work cannot be copied or distributed without their permission.
The law provides a “fair use” exception that permits copying of articles in certain limited circumstances —for example, for non-commercial or private research, or for purposes of criticism, review or reporting of current events.
The author of a work typically owns copyright (unless they have created it in the course of their employment, in which case copyright usually belongs to the employer).
Copyright can be sold, assigned, licensed, inherited and transferred (in whole or in part).
Publishers should have a contract with their freelancers to set out how they can use the freelancer’s work, including, if required, that copyright may be licensed or assigned to the publisher. If no contract exists, the position may be ambiguous and, in the event of a dispute, the matter could end up in court – so written terms are important.
In the UK, copyright in ‘literary works’ (which include magazine articles) lasts for 70 years beyond the death of the author. ‘Typographical copyright’ also applies to an article and its layout in newspapers and magazines, and this copyright lasts for 25 years from the date of publication.
Secondary licensing means the licensing to businesses or public bodies of some rights to use certain content in return for a payment –as facilitated by agencies such as NLA media access.
It is called “secondary” in contrast to the primary sale or publication of work needed to bring the content to market in the first place
Collective licensing schemes are usually joined by publishers who want to conduct secondary licensing of their content.
It’s typically more cost-effective for both users and smaller publishers to license their content on a collective basis, than each user and each publisher handling individual copying requests.
NLA media access sells collective licences covering newspaper and magazine titles to businesses. How much a business pays is driven by the size of the business, how many titles it wants to copy from, and the frequency and type of copying. The net revenue — or royalties — from these collective licence fees is then distributed to the relevant publishers.
The agreement publishers make with a licensing body (such as NLA media access or, in the case of magazines, the Publishers Licensing Society (PLS)) gives them the right to license content to their clients, typically on a non-exclusive basis. The agreement with the NLA grants the NLA the necessary rights to all content in a publication, and asks for an indemnity —a promise to back up a copyright claim —from the publisher as confirmation.
NLA media access encourages publishers to be clear with contributors on the consents that are granted in commissioned work. It recommends that all third-party content (text, photographs, illustrations, graphics etc) should be acquired on terms that contain specific clearance for work to be included in copying licences. Some examples from publishers who make their standard terms open can be found on the Guardian and Independent websites. As you will note, authors can keep their copyright and still grant the publisher the rights needed for licensing.
Magazine publishers seeking royalties from secondary licensing of their content should sign a mandate with their industry body, the PLS. NLA media access is an agency that issues collective licences to businesses that copy content, and feeds royalties back to publishers via the PLS.
Sources of web traffic: if your content’s online, you may find your website getting direct visits from unexpected sources (such as company intranets) to specific articles, suggesting that they may have been copied and reposted for corporate use. Keep an eye on your web analytics, and delve into unexpected spikes of traffic.
Search for unique sentences: copy an original sentence from one of your stories, put it into a search engine in inverted commas, and see if it’s repeated anywhere else. This is a simple technique that can reveal if your articles are being copied –either manually or in automatic news feeds –or quoted and commented on (which may well be a good thing…). Use Google image search to check duplication of images.
NLA runs a successful copyright infringement monitoring service for most national newspapers, which showsjust how widespread infringement can be. Find out more here
Do bear in mind the pros of copying as well as the cons. If your content is attributed to you, you may benefit from it reaching a wider audience. If it contains links to other articles on your site, you may be getting increased web traffic. The internet, after all, is based on the principles of information sharing and linking.
But if you really want to control the distribution of your material, here are some techniques to make copying harder –not impossible –but a bit more inconvenient.
Display a copyright notice. As we discussed here (link to copyright and copying), it’s not necessary to include a (c) mark against your work for it to be covered by copyright, but displaying one (correctly dated) helps suggest that you are a publisher who understands the value of your content.
Prevent easy copying online. Disable ‘right-click’ functionality on your website (search for this online and you’ll find snippets of code you can embed into your website), or publish into a PDF or a magazine application (Issuu and Yudu are the most popular among our magazine publishers).
Ensure that you’ve set up Google authorship and publisher tools –although these won’t prevent your content from being copied, they establish your contributors and titles as the original source of the work.
If your content is being copied and passed off as someone else’s work, then you have a clear case of plagiarism, and can ask for the content to be removed (if online) or apologies to be issued. You could even seek damages via the courts, though this is expensive and time consuming.
If your content is being shared or copied for commercial use, then you can:
- Negotiate an agreement directly for syndication or licensing of your content
- Direct the copier to a media licensing agency such as us at NLA media access or the CLA.
As part of a typical licensing agreement, a copier can pay a backdated fee to cover any copies they may have made over a term of up to 6 years. Do ensure you have a relationship yourself with the licensing agency to allow your titles to be offered as part of their content portfolio.
Finally, remember that where you publish online (or indeed offline), and encourage sharing by messagesto ‘pass on this copy’ or displaying social media sharing tools, then you ARE giving your permission for your content to be shared and redistributed.
If you have any questions about managing copyright and copying of your work, then please email email@example.com and one of the team will get back to you