Beware the press cuttings police!

“Hello, hello, what have we here Sarge? It looks like this company has had a good write up about its new product in Widgets Monthly and sent copies of the coverage to all its customers!”

“Have they got a licence, Constable? If not, charge them!”

Organisations across all areas of business life appreciate the value of gaining positive media coverage about themselves and it is natural to want to maximise the value of it by sharing it – whether that means sending copies to your colleagues or customers or by posting copies on your website.

But did you know that due to copyright law, the copying and sharing of content from newspapers, magazines and online media is not allowed without obtaining the publisher’s permission.

Galling as it might seem, even if the content was generated from information you originally supplied (in the shape of a press release, for example) you still need the publisher’s permission to copy and share it.

Approaching publishers individually is an option but it will be impracticable for most organisations in which case an appropriate licence will be required

In the UK publishers’ content rights are policed and managed largely by two organisations, the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) and the Copyright Licensing Agency(CLA). Between them they represent the bulk of the UK publishing industry. They charge organisations for licences to copy and share content and the money generated (after deduction of costs) is returned to the publishers to be invested back into the industry . The cost of licences varies according to the size of the company, the number of cuttings being copied and the number of publications involved.

Any company which obtains cuttings from a press cuttings agency, either directly or via a PR company, will sooner or later come under the scrutiny of the NLA and CLA to find out how the cuttings are being used and determine if a licence is required.

This is because press cuttings agencies and PR companies must notify the NLA and CLA which organisations they are providing cuttings to.

As a PR agency Source has a licence which allows us to distribute cuttings and online content to our clients. However, a condition of the licence is that we are restricted to sending the cuttings to one individual in each client organisation and we have to provide the licensing agencies with our clients’ names.

Furthermore, we have to make the recipient of the cuttings aware that they are not allowed to further copy or share the content with anyone else inside or outside their organisation without an appropriate licence from the NLA and CLA.

We don’t like doing it but we have no choice. To say the least, it is infuriating that we, and our clients, have to pay to copy content that we have provided to the media in the first place free of charge. 

For more information about the NLA and CLA visit their websites – and

Written by Steve Clark, 17/11/2017