Isentia and Copyright Agency finally secure licensing agreement

Isentia has entered into the new standard licence terms offered by the Copyright Agency. This agreement brings an end to the long-running proceedings initiated by Isentia in the Copyright Tribunal of Australia against the Copyright Agency.

Isentia, owned by UK-based Access Intelligence, has had a copyright licence with the Copyright Agency for over 20 years. The new terms will be available to media monitoring organisations until at least late 2025.

Copyright Agency chief executive, Josephine Johnston, said: “The agreement to new standard licence terms is an important milestone for the industry as it provides an opportunity for stability and consistency for existing and new entrants to the sector. It will be offered to all other media monitoring organisations operating in Australia.”

Isentia chief executive Joanna Arnold said: “We’re thrilled to be working collaboratively with Copyright Agency again and are confident the agreement is the start of a new and constructive era for the industry. Isentia acknowledges the valuable rights of copyright owners and this agreement ensures that media monitoring organisations are accountable for the use of their content. This is a highly competitive market, focused on innovation and technology, and this move towards standard terms helps to provide the level playing field necessary to encourage this.”

The new industry licence terms cover the full repertoire of Australian and international content licensed by Copyright Agency across print and online publications with a valuation informed by the determination of the Copyright Tribunal.

Back in October last year, The Copyright Tribunal ruled to accept the Copyright Licence proposal put forward by Meltwater almost in its entirety after a four-year battle with The Copyright Agency.

However, Isentia has disputed this, saying the Copyright Tribunal’s determination in October 2021 accepted the copyright licence proposal put forward by both Isentia and Meltwater. The success in the Copyright Tribunal proceedings was not limited to Meltwater and Isentia shared this success. In its determination the Copyright Tribunal rejected Copyright Agency’s proposed structure and valuation of the licence fee.

The Tribunal rejected the proposed license structure from The Copyright Agency which would have resulted in a 300% increase in costs.

Earlier still – in July 2022 – The Copyright Agency posted on its site: “The Copyright Tribunal (‘the Tribunal’) has released its decision in the long running matter involving the rate that media monitoring companies, Isentia and Meltwater, should pay to use news publishers’ print and digital content in their monitoring services.

“The media monitoring organisations’ (MMOs) case began in 2017 following the development of a new licensing model by the Copyright Agency. In October 2021, the Tribunal delivered its decision which largely dismissed this model in favour of alternative arrangements proposed by the MMOs. The Tribunal withheld publishing its full findings and details of the agreement that will extend to 2025 at that time while matters of commercial confidentiality were considered. They have now been published here.

“Copyright Agency sought judicial review of certain aspects of the Tribunal’s decision. The Full Federal Court heard this appeal in early May 2022 and the Court has reserved its judgement. In the meantime, Isentia and Meltwater operate on the basis of the Tribunal ordered licence terms which are a long way removed from the model we developed on behalf of members and rights holders.

“While disappointing, we acknowledge this means that while we wait for the outcome of the appeal, we need to review our approach to what is a complex and evolving area of licensing globally with differing frameworks between rights holders and content users applied around the world.

“The way media companies publish content has changed substantially in recent years with the rapid growth of digital content and multiple delivery channels. Accordingly, there will be an ongoing need to review and appropriately update licensing frameworks. The common goal should be to provide a fair and sustainable framework for all parties, and Copyright Agency will continue to advocate for our members and rights holders in this regard.

“Considering the Tribunal decision, and the constant evolution of media content delivery and use, Copyright Agency has already engaged an independent expert to provide advice on how to best approach the development of recommendations for future MMO licence agreements.”

No doubt, the protracted legal action and a cheaper deal with a significant cut to royalties will likely put publishers offside, with Isentia also fighting another legal battle on a different front.

In November last year, News Corp Australia entity Australian News Channel launched proceedings in the Federal Court against media monitoring company Isentia.

According to the Federal Court case file, Australian News Channel has submitted proceedings against Isentia for breach of Australian Intellectual Property and Copyright laws.

This is disputed by Isentia. In a statement sent to Mumbrella, Isentia said: “The application made by Australian News Channel Pty Ltd (ANC) in the Federal Court against Isentia makes no claim ‘for breach of Australian Intellectual Property and Copyright laws’ and any such allegation is categorically denied by Isentia. The application by ANC seeks a declaration that media monitoring services to government customers do not constitute acts done ‘for the services of the Commonwealth or State’ within the meaning of s183(1) of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). If the action by ANC is successful, it will have serious ramifications for Commonwealth and State use of media content and could jeopardise the way in which Commonwealth and State government use media monitoring services.”


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