Copyright Agency pings 22 agencies for breaches, ‘fines’ totalling more than $200,000

Copyright AgencyThe national chair of the Public Relation Institute of Australia’s (PRIA) Registered Consultancy Group has reminded PR consultancies they could face ‘fines’ of thousands of dollars for breaching copyright for sharing media clips online and with clients if they do not posses the appropriate Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) licence, with 22 PR agencies pinged so far with charges totalling collectively more than $200,000.

Speaking at yesterday’s CommsCon event held in Sydney Adam Benson told the audience agencies had been hit with the charges for the use of media clips on social media and sharing them with clients without possessing the appropriate CAL license.

“Last year CAL turned its sights properly onto the PR sector. And it’s pinged so far about 22 consultancies,” he said.

“And I’ll tell you how they do it – they go onto your website and if you have your coverage up there and you don’t have a CAL license they send you a letter. If it’s a really big breach they send you a letter from [lawyers] Minter Ellis which cost them $1,400 to write.

“I’ll tell you now, you’re screwed,” he added.”So far they’ve collected nearly $200,000 of revenues from PR consultancies, they are on the hunt.”

The Copyright Agency is a not-for-profit business which represents the rights of copyright owners, such as journalists and newspaper and magazine publishers.

Benson acknowledged that many consultancies have not been able to comply with the Copyright Agency (CAL) due to what he described as the way the licences were previously structured where it was based on the number of employees of the client which could result in a very expensive licence required for larger clients.

“We’ve essentially as an industry skirted around how to comply, we’d like to comply but simply the mechanics weren’t there.

PRIA’s Registered Consultancy Group has since worked with CAL on new licenses which “make sense for how we do business”.

“Essentially what they want is for you to say roughly how many clips you’re going to generate over the course of a year based on the average number of clients they have,” he explained.

Benson also warned agencies against the use of unpaid interns who are not currently studying.

“If you use interns, you will know the Fair Work Act changed in January last year. You are not allowed to have unpaid interns unless they are part of an academic program. If you are, Fair Work is looking for you.

“The fines are horrendous and the sector that has been punished the most has been the creative sector,” he added.

Miranda Ward 


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.