Companies must adhere to copyright laws or face the consequences

The Software & Information Industry Association has devised a new content compliance initiative aimed at ensuring that companies who are copying, distributing, posting, and using their content are properly licensed.

Do you have a license to distribute copyrighted newspaper, magazine, and newsletter articles to employees within your company or to clients? Do you have a license to post the latest article about your company on your website or intranet?

If you are not sure, now is the time to do your due diligence. 

The Software & Information Industry Association has devised a new content compliance initiative aimed at ensuring that companies who are copying, distributing, posting, and using their content are properly licensed. 

Many large publishers including McClatchy and the Financial Times have already signed up to participate in the program and bring with them other medium and smaller publishers. 

The first step is a sweeping educational campaign about the program and our intent to pursue legal remedies against those who fail to comply with copyright law.

Education alone will not protect publishers whose copyrights are violated. For this reason, following a short grace period, the association will pursue organizations that are distributing content without proper licenses.

Content piracy carries huge commercial and reputational risks. Damages in these cases can easily range in the hundreds of thousands – and sometimes millions – of dollars.

Many organizations use publications legitimately. Unfortunately, not everyone respects publishers’ copyrights and some ignore publishers’ rights to earn income from published content. Organizations that become targets for us are engaged in systematic, business-related copying and distribution that is not remotely close to being fair use.

Distributing information such as press clips is a part of PR, but everyone needs to operate in a manner that respects copyrights. To encourage reliable reports, we offer anonymous rewards of up to $1 million to those who report illegal use of content. 

Make sure your company is copyright compliant. If you don’t have the necessary licenses, contact the publisher or a company that represents groups of publishers, such as BurrellesLuce. 

The clear message we are sending is that copying and distributing material without proper licenses is illegal. Staying in compliance with copyright law is neither difficult nor expensive.

The choice is easy: Devote attention and modest resources to ensure your compliance or find yourself the potential recipient of a copyright enforcement letter.

Keith Kupferschmid is general counsel and SVP of intellectual property at the Software & Information Industry Association

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