The nuts and bolts of protecting your content
SIPA’s quarterly Memorandums From Counsel are written by the highly esteemed law firm of Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, L.L.P., specifically for SIPA. With a new one due to come out shortly, let’s quickly review the Winter 2012 issue (titled The Nuts and Bolts of Protecting Your Content)—in case you missed it. These Memorandums are member benefits, so to see the full text or to receive the next issue, you have to be a member.Topics for the Spring 2012 issue include: (1) Emerging legal trends in social media marketing; (2) tips for handling subpoenas and newsroom searches, and (3) briefs on copyright legislation and Copyright Office fees.
Five considerations for publishers that comprise the nuts and bolts of protecting content:
1. Make Sure the Content Is Yours – Copyright law usually vests the author of a work with exclusive ownership rights. The first question is therefore simple but vitally important: Who qualifies as the “author” of an electronic newsletter article, multimedia presentation or other specialized content? Is it the writer or the publisher? It depends upon the employment status of the person who actually created the work.
2. Consider When to Register Copyrights – Copyright protection begins automatically upon the creation of a work in a fixed form. However, a publisher may nevertheless want to register the copyright in its content with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registration is typically a prerequisite for any lawsuit enforcing a copyright against an infringer, and prompt registration (within three months of first publication) offers two key additional legal advantages.
3. What Subscribers Can and Cannot Do – Publishers frequently ask about the rules of the copyright road: What are subscribers allowed to do with content and what actions are considered infringing? Absent a subscriber agreement that spells out a specific license scope, the answer is that any copying beyond what is implied or authorized by the subscription, other than “fair use,” is improper.
4. Consider Subscriber Agreements – As may be clear from the discussion of what subscribers can and cannot do, the importance of clear subscription agreements cannot be overstated. A properly worded letter agreement or click-through license may remove any uncertainty as to permissible uses of the publisher’s content…
5. Evaluate and Handle Infringement – So how do publishers detect infringement, and what should they do when it occurs? Although copyright and subscriber license abuses are often difficult to detect, publishers can increase their odds by being vigilant. [A] publisher’s own internal monitoring and employee training are keys.
Attendees to SIPA 2012 are very fortunate in that Tom Curley and Chad Bowman of Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, L.L.P.—along with noted First Amendment lawyer andUniversity of Florida professor Clay Calvert—will be on hand Monday, May 21 to deliver a session titled Legal Landmines. I spoke with Professor Calvert a couple weeks ago and he is very excited to have this opportunity to interact with SIPA members. This session alone may very well be worth the price of admission, as they say. Just one tip from these speakers could save you a great deal of money—or even make some.
Again, be on the lookout for the next Memorandum From Counsel.
SIPA’s 36th Annual International Conference
Create. Sell. Deliver.
May 20-22, 2012
The Capital Hilton, Washington, D.C.
Expert speakers, 30-plus roundtables on an array
of topics, certificate programs, awards
presentations and other exciting sessions.
Register today while there is
still an early-bird price!