Thursday, 22 August 2013

Copyright agency catches up with councils

That's the title of the story in the Local Government Chronicle  (registration required). But here, on the assumption that press releases are made to be re-used, is what the CLA themselves have to say:
Twenty new councils have taken a copyright licence following legal action by CLA against one of Britain’s largest city councils. 
Earlier this year (April 2013), Brighton & Hove City Council agreed to pay CLA an undisclosed sum to cover legal costs and retrospective licence fees as well as agreeing to take a licence for the future.
Lawyers acting for Brighton & Hove had originally told CLA that it was not at risk of copyright infringement as it operated a ‘no copying’ policy, but evidence gathered by CLA showed that the policy had not worked and infringement was taking place.
Following the settlement with Brighton & Hove, 5 councils that had previously cancelled their licence have contacted CLA following internal reviews that showed they were at risk of copyright infringement – and consequential legal action. 
Martin Delaney, CLA’s Legal Director said: “I am pleased to see that councils are recognising their legal requirement for a CLA licence. This will help us to protect the UK creative industries, worth more than £36.2 billion to the UK economy .”
Mr. Delaney emphasised CLA’s continuing determination to investigate reports of copyright infringement and pursue councils that do not have a licence, but should have one:
“All of CLA’s licensed councils are surveyed on a rolling program and our data shows that copying is widespread during the course of day-to-day activities. There is no reason to doubt that these practices occur in all of the remaining unlicensed local authorities as well.”
CLA monitors councils where it is believed that copyright infringement is taking place and investigates reports of copyright infringement in the workplace provided by individuals. If a council is found to be infringing copyright, then in some cases, its officers and employees can be held individually liable.  
140 of 450 UK councils remain unlicensed when it is likely they are copying from digital and print publications covered by CLA.
I would have thought that it was patently obvious by now that there's really no way to get round the need for a licence. It's easy to think of the CLA as avaricious and unnecessary, if you are a user of photocopiers, and a burden on taxpayers, if the user is a public body: but from the point of view of an author whose work may be photocopied rather than bought, it's a godsend.

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