Tuesday 3 September 2013

CLA goes fishing in Brighton, makes a big catch

Brighton: from seaside to ©-side
While many good folk have been enjoying the summer on the beaches, in the bars or just plain glued to the telly,  the UK's Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd has opted for an adventure sport: hunting local authorities.  During what must presumably be the open season, the CLA caught no fewer than 20 of them.  Like the fisherman who, having caught his fish, sportingly extracts the hook and tosses the fish back, the CLA catches its councils, extracts a licence and then leaves them to get on with their municipal duties.

According to a recent media release from the CLA which can also be found on its website, quoted in relevant part:
" ... Twenty new councils have taken a copyright licence following legal action by CLA against one of Britain’s largest city councils.

Earlier this year (April 2013), Brighton & Hove City Council agreed to pay CLA an undisclosed sum to cover legal costs and retrospective licence fees as well as agreeing to take a licence for the future. Lawyers acting for Brighton & Hove had originally told CLA that it was not at risk of copyright infringement as it operated a ‘no copying’ policy, but evidence gathered by CLA showed that the policy had not worked and infringement was taking place [This raises another sensitive issue: local authorities, like many other public and private sector employers, have rules which employees are expected to observe and which may even be explicitly incorporated into their contracts of employment. Breach of a 'no copying' policy is generally executed by humans and not by invading hordes of chimpanzees, so it is likely that such breaches will also breach the terms of the copier's contract of employment.  This blogger isn't aware of any employer taking legal action against an employee whose copying makes it vicariously liable. If indeed this doesn't happen (can readers advise?), are such clauses in contracts of employment a bit of a waste of time? They don't seem to be a substitute for proper copyright guidance as to what employees can or can't do under a CLA licence, by statute or in any other way].

Following the settlement with Brighton & Hove, five councils that had previously cancelled their licence have contacted CLA following internal reviews that showed they were at risk of copyright infringement – and consequential legal action.

Martin Delaney, CLA’s Legal Director said: “I am pleased to see that councils are recognising their legal requirement for a CLA licence. This will help us to protect the UK creative industries, worth more than £36.2 billion to the UK economy”.

Mr. Delaney emphasised CLA’s continuing determination to investigate reports of copyright infringement and pursue councils that do not have a licence, but should have one:
“All of CLA’s licensed councils are surveyed on a rolling program and our data shows that copying is widespread during the course of day-to-day activities. There is no reason to doubt that these practices occur in all of the remaining unlicensed local authorities as well.”
CLA monitors councils where it is believed that copyright infringement is taking place and investigates reports of copyright infringement in the workplace provided by individuals. If a council is found to be infringing copyright, then in some cases, its officers and employees can be held individually liable".

1 comment:

Andy J said...

I'm guessing that main culprits are to be found in the education sector, rather than say, dustmen or the planning department. All the more reason for local authorities to encourage their schools to become academies!