Friday, April 20, 2012

Digital Copyright for Magazines

Erin Finlay, manager of legal services at Access Copyright

AMPA had the pleasure of hosting Erin Finlay, manager of legal services at Access Copyright, for the seminar “Copyright Issues in a Digital Era” in Calgary and Edmonton. Participants included magazine writers, editors, publishers and marketing consultants, and there was something for everyone to sink their teeth into. 

Erin started with a crash course on the basics of copyright law, and managed to make some pretty heavy legalese come to life. One participant described the seminar as “very thorough without being pedantic.” It was appreciated that, wherever possible, Erin offered definitions related to magazine publishing. For example:
  • Moral rights – an author could claim violation of their moral rights if they don’t want to be associated with an advertisement featured on the same page as their article. 

We also looked at digital copyright conflicts in journalism, and specifically the Heather Robertson case:
  • Class action against the newspaper industry for using her articles in digital archives without her consent
  •  The verdict – newspaper publishers have the right to include articles in a full reproduction of the newspaper, but not when the paper is disaggregated into individual articles
  •  This begs a key question about copyright issues – “are we trying to squeeze old world copyright models into new technology?”

Also of particular relevance to the magazine industry was the Digital Copyright Trail—creator to publisher to distributor to user:
  • Publishing is no longer a model of creators and publishers pushing information out to users via distributors, but rather the reverse. 
  • Digital media distributors (ie: internet service providers and search engines) and users are now pulling that information from publishers and creators.

There was plenty more that we covered in this short seminar, and Erin certainly taught us a lot, but there’s also always more to learn. One participant requested a discussion of contractual rights, and how publishers can create contracts with their freelancers that are fair to all. We’ll have to bring Erin back in the future to tackle that one! 

--- Rebecca Lesser
AMPA Communications & Programs Coordinator