Copyright deal a win for publishers

One of Australia’s largest media monitoring companies, Meltwater, has signed a content licensing agreement with the Copyright Agency which will provide revenue for Australia’s major news and magazine publishers.

The agreement will allow Meltwater to monitor online news and magazine content and provide “scrapings” – or head and text extracts with links – that will enable clients to access the full text, even if it is behind a paywall.

It was developed by the Copyright Agency in partnership with Meltwater and CopyCo, the joint venture which acts on behalf of publishers including Fairfax Media, News Corp Australia, APN News & Media, Bauer Media, Seven West Media, Pacific Magazines and more. It follows a similar deal with iSentia last year.

As more online news content becomes available only to subscribers, business clients have demanded more detailed article summaries from media monitoring companies, as well as conditional access  to content behind paywalls.

The deal has been developed as a response to this trend and extends the protection of digital content.

“The original press clipping licence agreement we had in place for newspaper and magazine content only referenced print editions – so you could take articles and clip them to clients in full text electronic format,” Copyright Agency director of commercial licensing Ross McCaul says.

“Having Meltwater come in under this new scraper-licence framework is a great result and enhances competition in the market. It shows Meltwater’s intention to respect the copyright of publishers.”

Fairfax Media group general counsel and chair of Copyco Gail Hambly said: “The publishers are very pleased to have been able to work together with Meltwater to produce a licence agreement that is beneficial to all parties.”

Meltwater is one of the major scrapers globally for media monitoring services, particularly for newspapers and magazines.

In 2010 the company lost a court case in the UK against Newspaper Licensing Agency Ltd and others, which found that newspaper headlines alone qualified as copyright material. This meant online media monitoring services were then required to obtain a licence to avoid infringing on the copyright of newspaper publishers.

The ruling followed a similar case in Australia months earlier in which the Federal Court made the opposite judgment. Fairfax lost its bid to obtain licencing fees from Reed International’s ABIX monitoring service which reproduced headlines and short abstracts from articles in the Australian Financial Review. The Federal Court deemed headlines from the newspaper were not capable of being literary works in which copyright could subsist.

“That made it more challenging back then to introduce a licensing framework for scraping online content,” Mr McCaul said. However, since then scraping services began to provide more of the original article to accompany the link, bringing the requirement for a copyright licence back into play.

An ad from the campaign set to relaunch in March to raise awareness of copyright in the business sector

An ad from the campaign set to relaunch in March to raise awareness of copyright in the business sector

The deal with Meltwater is the culmination of a two-year co-operative process, Mr McCaul said.

“Publishers are happy we’ve reached an agreement. Obviously it means more licensing funds back to publishers to provide quality journalism.”

Meanwhile, iSentia, the largest media monitoring provider in Australian and New Zealand, has grown its online newspaper scraping services since its agreement came into action in December 2014. iSentia successfully listed on the ASX late last year.

Mr McCaul said the Copyright Agency and CopyCo would relaunch an advertising campaign in March to educate senior businesses on copyright infringement. He said there was a knowledge gap surrounding compliance in this sector.

“Rules on copyright are often forgotten,” he said. “A lot of staff don’t think there’s a copyright infringement for emailing or forwarding an attachment. Some think it’s okay for internal use up to 10 per cent.”

In fact there is no section in the Copyright Act 1968 that allows 10 per cent of an article to be used. If an email contains the copied and pasted text of an article or a PDF attachment, it can be deemed to infringe the copyright of the publisher, as can posting articles to a company website, putting an article in a report or presentation, or posting something on the staff intranet.

“Staff, businesses and government, anybody, should be able to freely use and reuse newspaper content as part of their job – we just believe the appropriate copyright licence should be in place,” Mr McCaul said.

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