Copyright Infringement: Journalists
Are you a journalist? Does your work get published in newspapers or online publications? Do you know how copyright applies to your work?
Journalism does not look anything like what it did when Congress passed the US Copyright Act. In the “old” days, a team of researchers, writers, fact-checkers, and editors might spend weeks or longer working on publishing news.
But with advances in technology, reporting has changed. Things move much faster. Now, once a breaking story is out there, it only takes minutes for everyone to report on the same story.
What stops everyone from just copying the first story and publishing it on their own news platforms? Copyright laws.
If someone copies your text or news article and publishes it, they might be liable for copyright infringement.
Call our copyright infringement lawyers at Sanders Law Group if you think someone is violating your copyright. Our attorneys help clients nationwide and across the globe fight copyright infringement of their written content.
Copyright Protects the Value of Your Work
Journalists work hard to break news stories. They work even harder to write in engaging, interesting, and accurate ways. We know earning a living as a journalist is not easy.
It is easy, however, for people to download your work and publish it as their own, or copy it and use it for various purposes of their own.
When someone copies your work without permission and violates your copyright, it can cause you financial harm.
It can diminish the value of your work. It can divert profits from your work to someone else.
Our US copyright attorneys want you to receive the compensation you deserve when someone violates your rights and uses your work without permission.
How Does Copyright Protect Your Written Content?
Copyright gives authors, including news writers and journalists, exclusive rights to their original, written work. These rights include the right to:
- reproduce the work
- prepare derivative works,
- distribute copies of the work
- perform the work publicly
- and to display the work publicly
Copyright automatically attaches when the work is created, provided three criteria are met.
- The work must be original
- It must be a work of authorship
- The work must be fixed in a tangible medium
Does Copyright Apply Differently to Journalists?
Copyright laws regarding news reporting and journalism apply the same way they do to other writers and authors.
For example, the text of a news article contains creativity. Journalists can exercise unique writing styles, make judgments, and form conclusions in their work. A lot of creative decision-making can go into the writing of an article. This is true even when the article is a report on a fact-based situation.
Two journalists can, and often do, take different approaches to reporting the same facts. It occurs all the time. However, when one journalist simply copies the text of another’s, it can be a case of copyright infringement.
Keep in mind that if you are a journalist who does work-for-hire or is an employee, the copyright to your work may belong to someone else.
Are you a freelance journalist licensing your work? Are you a full-time journalist, working for a single publication? What does your employment agreement provide? These can all factor into your rights.
Copyright Law Protects Expression - Not Facts or Ideas
The Copyright Act states in section 102(b) that no “idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery” can have copyright protection.
Copyright protects the expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves. Similarly, copyright does not protect facts because facts are not expressions of authorship. Copyright can, however, protect written works of authorship about the facts.
For example, two journalists have written news stories about the winner of the NY mayoral election. The facts do not receive copyright protection- who won, the number of votes, the name of the losing candidate. The expression of the facts as written in the two different news stories, however, might be protected by copyright.
While many journalistic articles are fact-specific, we know how much creativity and judgment can go into a particular piece of writing. Sentence structure, organization, and word choices you make as a journalist are critical to the delivery and impact of your writing. It is these elements that copyright law is designed to protect.
When Someone Violates Your Copyright, You Might be Entitled to Damages
By filing a copyright infringement lawsuit in federal court, you might be entitled to collect damages related to the unauthorized use of your work.
Two types of damages can be awarded in a copyright lawsuit: actual and statutory damages.
Actual damages are the real financial damages you suffered because of the copyright infringement. Actual damages must be measurable.
Statutory damages are established by law. They can range anywhere from $750 – $150,000. These damages do not require proof of actual monetary losses.
How Does Fair Use Apply to Journalism?
The Fair Use doctrine is often invoked as a defense in copyright cases involving journalism. Fair use allows a party to use copyrighted material without permission or compensation under certain circumstances.
As the Copyright Alliance states, “If journalists were required to always obtain permission from the copyright owner to use copyrighted material in every instance, news media and similar organizations may become burdened and limited in their ability to report the news.”
Although there is no clear line regarding what is and what is not fair use, the following purposes might qualify:
- news reporting
Journalism pieces can fall into one or more of these categories, but it does not mean the work is not a copyright infringement. Each fair use exception is considered on a case-by-case basis. While the court does have guidelines, do not assume that someone else’s use of your journalistic work falls into a fair-use exception. You might still be entitled to collect damages for copyright infringement.
Journalists: You Can Protect Your Rights Without Paying Large Upfront Costs
We know how hard it is to earn a living as a professional journalist. You might not think you don’t have the resources to hire a law firm to enforce your copyright and seek damages.
Our US Copyright Attorneys at Sanders Law Group work differently. We handle copyright cases on a contingency basis. You don’t have to pay large upfront costs or high hourly fees.
By handling copyright claims on a contingency fee basis, we get paid when you do.
Call Sanders Law Group For A Free Evaluation
Call Sanders Law Group today at 888-348-3090 to schedule a free evaluation of your copyright claim. Our US copyright attorneys are dedicated to protecting and enforcing the rights of creative professionals. If you are a journalist, artist, photographer, videographer, or other creative professional, call us for all of your copyright needs.
We have experienced lawyers who:
- Send cease and desist letters
- Issue take-down notices
- File copyright registrations
- File copyright infringement lawsuits
- Litigate copyright claims
- Negotiate copyright settlements
- Negotiate licensing agreements
- Enforce licensing contracts
Call Sanders Law Group today at 888-348-3090 for your free copyright consultation.