News reporting "Fair Use"

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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News reporting "Fair Use"

Post by Mubuer »

When we report about an event, can it be considered as fair use if we quote some materials about the same event from the news that come from other media agencies? For example, when reporting the news about The 37th Session of the Human Rights Council, may I quote clips of news reports that come from other media agencies about the Human Rights Council and the building where this council is held?

In my opinion, when reporting a piece of news, it is not allowed to quote the relevant materials from other media agencies freely. If we must use some of materials, even if the quantity we quote is small, I’m afraid it‘s still difficult to be considered as “fair use”. I am not sure whether this understanding is correct.
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Re: News reporting "Fair Use"

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Mubuer,

As long ago as 1886 in the first Berne Convention on Copyright (an international treaty which was at first mainly agreed between some European nations) it was agreed in Article 5 that articles from newspapers and periodicals could be re-published in countries other than the originaing state, provided that the source newspaper etc had not explicitly forbidden such practice, but even if they did, the prohibition did not apply to political discussion or 'news of the day'. By the most recent (1971) version of the Convention, this had been watered down cosiderably, but the use of quotations from newspapers was still permissible, subject to national legislation of the member states. So we find that section 30(2) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 says the following:
(2) Fair dealing with a work (other than a photograph) for the purpose of reporting current events does not infringe any copyright in the work provided that (subject to subsection (3)) it is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement.
This is somewhat wider than the relevant part of the EU Directive (2001/29) on the subject, which provides the following exception:
(c) reproduction by the press, communication to the public or making available of published articles on current economic, political or religious topics or of broadcast works or other subject-matter of the same character, in cases where such use is not expressly reserved, and as long as the source, including the author's name, is indicated, or use of works or other subject-matter in connection with the reporting of current events, to the extent justified by the informatory purpose and as long as the source, including the author's name, is indicated, unless this turns out to be impossible;
So from that you would think you have considerable opportunity to quote from news reports. But this needs to set against some recent court cases in which the newspaper industry in a number of European states including the UK have tried to shut down such exceptions, especially when they are exercised by other profit making organisations such as public relations companies, and more recently Google and Facebook. Some of these decisions (for instance Infopaq), are seen as having a quantitative limiting effect on the amount which may be quoted while remaining 'fair'. For anything more than this limit, you may need a licence from the Newspaper Licensing Agency.

If you want to use passages from magazines and newspapers in order to highlight contrasting views taken by these publications, then you should be able to do that without too much risk. However if you just wish to use the news reports as primary sources about the overall event, it is better to paraphrase rather than use long chunks verbatim. However that would not apply to any reported speech, which you can quote verbatim, however long it is, because obviously the newspaper has no claim to copyright in the words spoken by, for instance, a delegate at a conference.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
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