Legal PR blog

Fines for copyright infringement reveal risk reality

Last year, Legal PR Blog reported the Copyright Licencing Agency’s demand for firms to take out one of its licences or face fines for copyright infringement.

Now the CLA appears keen to bear its teeth with the announcement that Brighton and Hove City Council has agreed to pay the agency an undisclosed sum to cover legal costs and retrospective licence fees as well as agreeing to take a CLA licence for the future.

The City Council has agreed to pay retrospective fees and future licencing charges
The City Council has agreed to pay retrospective fees and future licencing charges

In a statement issued today, the CLA said lawyers acting for the Council 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.

Martin Delaney, CLA’s Legal Director, was pleased with the outcome of the case saying,

“I am delighted that Brighton and Hove City Council has accepted that it should take a CLA licence. It is only fair that authors, visual artists and publishers should be compensated for the use of their copyright works”.

He also stressed CLA’s continuing determination to investigate any reports of possible copyright infringement and to pursue councils or any other organisations that do not have a licence, but should have.

A CLA licence is normally required by businesses or public sector organisations to allow reproduction of electronic or online publications, copying and emailing of press cuttings and articles or photocopying and scanning from print books, journals or magazines. Failure to obtain the appropriate permission leaves an organisation open to legal action from CLA.

CLA monitors organisations where it is believed that illegal copying is taking place and investigates reports of copyright infringement in the workplace provided by individuals. If an organisation is found to be infringing copyright, then in some cases, its officers and employees can be held individually liable.


This issue is likely to be of increasing significance to law firm marketers and PR agencies alike. In a marketplace where the reproduction of content to clients and contacts forms an integral part of the press relations service, those responsible for carrying out such tasks should be aware of their licencing requirements.

Post by: Ralph Savage / Website:
A business journalist by trade, Ralph Savage represents a series of B2B clients on media and marketing matters. He provides strategic PR advice, media training and consultancy. He also ghost writes regularly on behalf of FTSE 250 CEOs, leading counsel and senior professionals including solicitors, accountants and brokers.