Everyday copyright – Making sure your firm is using content without risk of infringement

 In Practice Management

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Everyday copyright – Making sure your firm is using content without risk of infringementIn this digital age, businesses of every kind are relying more than ever on having quick and easy access to published information, and law firms are no different. This information can be of significant use so it’s understandable that firms might want to retain a copy, or perhaps share it with colleagues, associates and clients. But the seemingly innocent act of copying or forwarding an article to a colleague or client could be putting your firm at risk of copyright infringement. Compliance continues to be a serious matter for the legal sector and infringement has resulted in reputational damage, as well as lengthy and expensive litigation cases, for too many firms. So, what is copyright? How does it affect you and your firm? And what can your firm do to ensure that you’re on the right side of copyright compliance?

What is copyright?

Copyright is one of the main types of intellectual property. Intellectual property gives a person ownership over the things they create, the same way as something physical can be owned, and allows the copyright owner to protect against others copying or reproducing their work. Works currently protected by copyright in the UK include books, journals, law reports, and all their digital counterparts, such as e-books, e-journals and websites. The main legislation dealing with copyright in the United Kingdom is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

In general, permission is required each time you wish to copy or share third party published content. But obtaining these permissions can be time-consuming, costly, and not always fruitful. So how do you avoid exposing your firm to the risk of legal action, while still accessing the content you need?

CLA Law Licence

A copyright licence from the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) can provide the solution. CLA was established in 1983 by authors and publishers to issue licences granting ‘blanket’ permission to copy extracts from books, journals, magazines and press cuttings, as well as digital or electronic publications, from the UK and 39 international territories.

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The CLA Law Licence has been specially developed to provide legal professionals with the copying and re-use permissions that would most benefit their firms and enable them to fulfil their day-to-day responsibilities with efficiency and ease. Just some permissions granted in the Licence include:

  • General internal ad hoc copying for briefings, meetings, training, general research and more
  • Photocopying, scanning and making digital-to-digital copies
  • Sharing and storing via digital workspaces
  • Digital annotation of content, allowing firm employees to mark up electronic copies
  • Sharing copies with existing clients regarding matters on which they are receiving advice, or in response to ad hoc requests
  • Sharing copies with prospective and existing clients to alert them to a matter or issue on which further advice might be sought

Investing in a CLA Law Licence grants firms the assurance of copyright compliancy and allows them to confidently go about their daily activities, using content as and when required.

Copyright Compliance

Copyright doesn’t need to be confusing, frightening or complex. Nor should it be a hindrance to your firm’s consumption and use of third party published content. You can easily avoid copyright infringement by making sure your firm’s employees are up to speed on copyright policy and by better being aware of what copying activity goes on in your firm, for what purposes, and for whose use.

CLA’s mission is to make copyright simple for our customers and with a CLA Law Licence you can make sure you’re always falling on the right side of copyright compliance. You can find out more about our services at our website, www.cla.co.uk.

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