Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Press Clips: Link or Copy

Dear Rich: I am preparing a news feed of recent articles in which my company's products or website are mentioned in the news. Ideally, we'd like to have a running archive of articles on the website and when you click on the title, it would show you the article in its entirety. We are considering two options: first, we could link the articles to their actual source. Or second and more preferable since we would be able to ensure the link is never dead and we'd keep people on our website, we could link each article to another webpage where we'd have recreated the article (citing the author, source, date, etc). My the second option legal or are we running into copyright problems? You're much more likely to run into problems with the second option. Linking is usually a safe way to convey information that your company doesn't own. We think you'll be okay with reproducing a few sentences and a link back to the full story at its source (although some European courts may disagree). Larger excerpts may cause problems. As for reproducing complete articles, you can always seek permission. Most news sources provide a means for licensing content. For example, the New York Times, like many publications offers a simple process for obtaining a quote and getting permission. To find the permission information, usually there is a link on the bottom of the publication's home page. 
Is it a fair use to reproduce a complete article? We're not sure, though of course it all depends on context, and use. In any case, as far back as 1999, courts were denying fair use arguments for full article reproductions. 
P.S. While we're thinking about it ... it doesn't hurt to avoid using graphic logos from news organizations. You don't want to create the impression that the news organization endorses your company or is associated with it. And your company should be mindful of the FTC "endorser" rules. For example, if you're supplying reviewers with copies, that fact should be disclosed.