Don't Eat the Shrimp

Josh Morgan's Take on PR, Social Media & Marketing

SIIA Needs To Think A Bit

Ok, maybe the finger is a little strong but this made me really angry. This is a short sighted shakedown. I’m going to ask the SIIA to please check the PR departments at some of their most high profile members to see if they share articles internally.

I’ll find something happy to post about later and end the week on a good note.

My favorite is the quote from the SIIA spokesperson:

Asked if internal distribution of news articles was commonplace at many companies, SIIA’s Bain disagreed. “Companies do not do this all the time,” he said. “Some companies have compliance procedures in place to keep it from happening.”

Mr. Bain is listed on the SIIA website as their ‘litigation counsel.’ Sir, have you ever worked for a company that is not a law firm? I have never worked for a company that did not distribute material about the company internally.
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Knowledge Networks pays $300,000 to settle internal copyright complaint

Firm’s marketing group distributed press packets to employees containing newspaper and magazine articles under copyright


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Analyst firm Knowledge Networks has agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a complaint that it distributed news articles to its employees without permission of the copyright owners, a trade group announced Thursday.

The Knowledge Networks settlement is the first under the Software & Information Industry Association’s Corporate Content Anti-Piracy Program, launched in October.

Knowledge Networks’ marketing group had been distributing press packets to some employees on a regular basis, the SIIA said. Those packets contained articles under copyright and owned by SIIA members such as the Associated Press, United Press International, and publishing company Reed Elsevier, the trade group said.

SIIA litigation counsel Scott Bain called Knowledge Networks a “reputable company that made a very costly mistake.” One of SIIA’s goals for the settlement is to deter copyright infringement and educate other companies about the need for compliance programs, he said.

A Knowledge Networks spokesman declined to talk about the case in detail. “We are happy the matter has been resolved amicably,” said spokesman Dave Stanton.

Knowledge Networks, based in Menlo Park, Calif., has agreed to take steps to avoid further problems, including sending its staff to an SIIA copyright course, SIIA said.

In a statement distributed by SIIA, Knowledge Networks said it regretted the actions.

“[We] disseminated copies of relevant newspaper and magazine articles in the good faith belief that it was lawful to do so,” the company said in the statement. “We now understand that practice may violate the copyright rights of those publications. We regret that those violations may have occurred and we are pleased that this matter has now been resolved.”

Asked if internal distribution of news articles was commonplace at many companies, SIIA’s Bain disagreed. “Companies do not do this all the time,” he said. “Some companies have compliance procedures in place to keep it from happening.”

Compliance procedures include staff designated for licensing and compliance, sufficient budgets for the content licensing needs of the company, education programs for staff, deals with major content outlets, and strict policies and internal penalties for violating copyright, Bain said.

SIIA learned about the situation through a confidential tip, the trade group said. The person who reported Knowledge Networks will receive a $6,000 reward.

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5 thoughts on “SIIA Needs To Think A Bit

  1. To answer your question, “Yes.”

    Also, our members agree — and I agree from 15 years of personal experience — that copyright infringement of publications is an all too common occurrence within some, perhaps many, organizations. Other organizations devote significant attention to licensing and compliance, though.

    For further background see, for example, the 2003 case of Lowry’s Reports, Inc. v. Legg Mason, Inc. in the District of Maryland ($19.7 million jury verdict for copyright infringement and breach of license).

    We are glad that you acknowledged the issue.

    Scott Bain

  2. Scott,

    Thank you very much for your comment and participating in the discussion. I’m not a lawyer, but I am curious as to under this way of thinking what the proper method of distributing articles about a company would be? For example, is it ok to pass the actual article around to people in the company? Can someone physically cut the article out, and combine it with others and pass those around? How about if a copy is made and then passed around?

  3. in this case , appropriate use of the finger. i find it ridiculous to think passing around a paper within an organization is infringment of copyright. pretty PR 101 if you ask me and really, organizations in today’s business society have bigger fish to fry i would think….

  4. “Passing around a paper,” i.e. circulating a lawfully-acquired copy of a publication (such as the one you got in the mail per your subscription), is not copyright infringement. Sending around a link to an article appearing on a typical Internet web site (i.e. impliedly offered for viewing by the copyright owner) is not copyright infringement. Indeed, sending a link might increase page views, advertising revenue, etc.

    The difference — legally and, in many cases, economically to the copyright owner — is when such behavior instead turns into MAKING COPIES to circulate instantaneously or use in other ways, whether in print form or by email or whatever.

    A famous case from about 15 years ago, American Geophysical v. Texaco, even held that making photocopies for individual scientists’ “archive files” was infringement. The reasoning makes sense — why should a big company get to buy a single, individually-priced subscription in order to provide instant access to copies by multiple employees? (Clearly, it believed that keeping its single legitimate copy in the library was not convenient enough for this purpose). Many publishers offer multi-user or blanket licenses, and institutions such as the CCC exist to streamline multi-publication licensing.

    As for the sentiment that this is commonly done in PR firms and other businesses, well, that’s why we have a content anti-piracy program.

  5. Scott,

    Thank you for your continued participation in this discussion. This is an important topic that definitely merits further discussion with the PR industry.

    Information on the “content anti-piracy program” Scott referenced above can be found at http://www.siia.com/content/

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