The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 gives the owner of the copyright (the creator or publisher) certain exclusive rights so that their permission must be obtained before an organisation (commercial or public sector) can reproduce (by digital copying, photocopying, scanning, storing or emailing) an extract of their work. If permission is not obtained the organisation risks infringing copyright and the potential costs associated with it.
Most published content used by a business or public sector organisation will be protected by copyright. This includes books, magazines, newspapers, journals, newsletters, reports and a wide range digital material including some websites. Permission is also required to allow multiple access of electronic or web-based press cuttings supplied by an external agency and to circulate them internally by email or hard copy.
Copywatch will investigate reports of potential infringement and will initiate legal action on behalf of the copyright owners where appropriate. Evidence of infringement presented by CLA normally results in an out of court settlement and/or the purchase of a licence, so it is worth obtaining one in the first place. If your organisation is found to be infringing copyright law the costs can be varied and damaging.
Copyright owners can seek a range of remedies for infringement, including an injunction, damages for losses, an account of the infringer's profit or the right to seize infringing copies.
Infringement is usually a civil offence and any damages would be awarded at the discretion of the court on a case-by-case basis. Additional damages can also be awarded regarding the flagrancy of such infringement as the justice of the case may require.
Any legal action is bad publicity and can have a negative effect on your reputation and brand, affecting incoming investment and possibly even future revenues. These effects can be substantial depending on the status and nature of the organisation concerned.
Individual officers of a company can be held responsible and employees can be personally liable for infringement in certain circumstances.
Copyright law applies to local authorities just the same as it does other public and commercial sector organisations. In fact most Local Authorities currently hold a licence from the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) that permits them to copy published material in the workplace.
A recent Copywatch campaign led to a significant increase in applications to CLA with 61 more local authorities taking a licence. Local authority licences typically provide legal cover for activities such as photocopying and scanning of books and journals, digital copying from PDF documents and accessing and circulating of press cuttings in council offices.
However, there are still some councils that do not have permission to use published content in these ways and if we receive information about illegal copying we will investigate and take action.
Copyright applies to the national NHS services in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland just the same as it does to the rest of the public and commercial sectors.
Due in part to a recent Copywatch campaign concentrated on NHS Scotland we are pleased to say that all the national health authorities are currently licensed.
The Copywatch campaign facilitated CLA and NHS Education for Scotland to agree a new 2-year licence that will remain in place until 2016. The licence is the result of open and constructive discussion over a 12 month period and complements the digital content strategy that NHS Scotland is deploying.
If you receive press cuttings you will normally require a licence from The Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) to cover you to make a further copy, save a copy on a PC or email it to a colleague. Without a licence you are permitted only to:
Access/view a single electronic press cutting by one person, once only
Print out a single copy of a cutting which cannot then be further copied.
Following an initiative by Copywatch, agencies are required to provide the names of clients that receive press cuttings, either in hard copy, electronically by e-mail or via online access. As a result of the client details provided more than 1,300 organisations have been contacted and licensed by CLA.