Jinfo BlogCopyright Risk - Why It Matters and What To Look Out For

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By Clare Painter

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Clare Painter describes why it is important to address copyright issues and manage the risks that can come from redistributing content within your organisation or online across the world. She outlines key factors you need to take into account when sourcing and selecting copyright material, and looks at how you can use high-quality content whilst reducing copyright risk.


FreePint Topic Series: News, and BeyondWhy Does Copyright Matter to Us?

Copyright used to be seen largely as the preserve of publishers and authors. No longer.

Any organisation can find itself caught up in copyright issues, whether protecting their own copyright material (reports, articles, website content, etc.) or redistributing content from external sources.

What Content Can We Redistribute?

The simplest place to start is with content which you own yourself. However, if any images or figures are included, do check that you own those too.

You can also look at sources of public domain material, and content which is offered under an open licence (look out for any particular terms that may apply). In both cases you will need to acknowledge the source, but you don't need to contact anyone directly before reusing the material.

Content found on the internet can be problematic, as unfortunately so much has been uploaded in breach of copyright. Identifying the legitimate rights holder is therefore a key step in ensuring you remain compliant.

Clearing Licences and Permissions

Bear in mind that if you place content online, you are effectively distributing it worldwide, and any licences or permissions you hold will need to reflect this.

Make sure you are really clear about the range of uses you would like to include in your licence: where will it be placed, how many people will have access to it, and what will they be permitted to do with it? Be clear whether you intend to use this material only within your organisation, such as for in-house training or on your intranet, or externally, with a client or on your website. Each of these carries different copyright implications.

Know What You Own

My in-depth article "Copyright and Issues of Redistribution in an Increasingly Connected World" describes how you can manage these issues and take steps to reduce any copyright risks. In particular, I outline how to approach a copyright audit which will show you the gaps in your processes and identify what you need to do next.

Sometimes this can be a revealing process. Different teams may have evolved their own ways of processing copyright questions, and the approach they take may not always be consistent with each another.

If your organisation is aware of potential copyright risks, try this as a first step:

  • Assess the problem: what content do you already use and where does it come from?
  • Identify who currently handles copyright issues and what records they keep
  • If clear copyright guidance was available, how would this change the way content and copyright questions are managed?

Having the right copyright guidance and templates in place can reduce risk and allow you to make legitimate use of high-quality content, supporting your organisation in its core activities.

This Blog Item is part of the FreePint Topic Series: News, and Beyond.

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