CAMPAIGNS: BUSINESS TO BUSINESS; Keeping watch on copycats

Client: Copyright Licensing Agency PR Agency: Luther Pendragon Campaign: Copywatch. Timing: 10 November to present. Cost: pounds 40,000

Client: Copyright Licensing Agency

PR Agency: Luther Pendragon

Campaign: Copywatch.

Timing: 10 November to present.

Cost: pounds 40,000

The Copyright Licensing Agency was set up in 1982 in response to the

increasing numbers of photocopiers, and consequent copying of material

without any fees going to the author or publisher. The CLA represents

the interests of authors and publishers and issues copying licences to

businesses on their behalf, with the fees being redistributed to

copyright owners.

As unlicensed copying is a civil rather than criminal offence, generally

the CLA has no power of search, making it easy for businesses to ignore,

or put off responding to, licensing applications and information from

the CLA.

But a significant breakthrough came for the CLA in 1992 when a supply

teacher in a Manchester school saw extracts from a book he had written,

copied and circulated without any copyright fees being paid to him.

Manchester City Council was taken to court and licenses were

subsequently issued to all local education authorities in the country.

Then in July 1995, Luther Pendragon were brought in to target other

private and public sector organisations who had been less receptive to

the CLA’s service.


To increase uptake of copy licences from CLA and to cut down on illegal

photocopying of copyright material by businesses. To promote awareness

of the legal status of author and publisher copyright.


Pendragon launched Copywatch in November with a press lunch at the

British Library and a release on the illegality of much business

photocopying, which was given serious coverage in the Observer, the

Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph.

Copywatch also unveiled a telephone hotline that would advise businesses

on copyright regulations and take calls from whistleblowers reporting

illegal photocopying. Ben Rich, account manager at Luther Pendragon,

explains: ‘Copywatch was a two pronged campaign. It congratulated

companies taking out licences, while frightening those who continued to

copy illegally. Complying with copyright law was promoted as part and

parcel of good business practice.’

National media relations were followed up with a sector by sector

approach, targeting trade magazines and trade associations including the

Law Society, Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry, Building

Society Association and the accountancy body CIPFA. While trade

magazines, especially Accountancy Age, provided editorial and free or

cut price advertising, the trade associations provided mailing lists of

potential CLA licensees.

Rich adds that the sector by sector approach meant that no company was

having to bear the cost of taking out a licence before their

competition. It also meant applications came into the CLA at a

manageable rate.


In four months Pendragon’s pounds 40,000 Copywatch campaign has brought

the CLA pounds 500,000 in new licences, and could generate pounds 1

million within the year. The Copywatch hotline has taken 100 calls so

far, one of which has lead to prosecution procedures. CLA business

licensing officer Roger Bull says: ‘I am very pleased with the way it’s

gone, both in terms of perception and calls to the hotline.’


In addition to substantially increasing levels of licensing, the

campaign was also successful in establishing an identity for CLA - an

issue of increasing importance to the organisation since the advent of

the Newspaper Licensing Agency. While the CLA is supportive of the NLA,

and appreciative of the increased awareness of copyright issues created

by the NLA’s recent campaign, it is keen to maintain its separate


And it remains to be seen whether the controversy created by the NLA

campaign will rub off on the CLA.

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