Back to list

Copyright Tribunal of Australia expected to make final determination of new pricing model for media monitoring organisation in 2020

Thursday 18, Jul 2019

Unless you are close to copyright legal matters in Australia, you may have missed the stoush going on between Copyright Agency and media monitoring companies, iSentia, Meltwater and Streem.   

On one hand, The Copyright Agency is seeking to apply a new pricing regime it believes is more reflective of the digital useage of copyright material, and will ensure journalists and its publisher members receive a fairer amount for their work. You can read a summary of their position here.   

On the other hand, iSentia and the other media monitoring firms have repudiated this change in pricing model, not believing it to be fair or evenly applied. You can read the latest statement from iSentia on this matter here.

So what does this mean for PR firms in practical terms? Right now, not much. There have been interim orders put in place which essentially put a stay on the application of the new pricing regime by The Copyright Agency until a final determination is made by the Copyright Tribunal of Australia. That means prices either stay the same for now, or may have even reduced a little depending on what content you consume or use from your media monitoring agency of choice. 

Once the determination is made, there may be a positive or negative impact on media monitoring costs and, given the size of these charges for some PR firms, it will be just be worth noting as part of your business operation reviews.  

At this stage, that determination appears set to be made in 2020 at some point. 

What PR consultancies should know about copyright 

If you're not up to speed on your obligations (and opportunities to reduce costs) in relation to copyright here are some quick tips.   More information can be found here.

  • The copyright charge on your media monitoring bill does not cover your own use of media articles you receive from media monitors, apart from some limited internal use. If you send clip books or articles to your clients based on content you receive from your media monitoring agency, you must hold your own copyright licence to do so. Likewise, you should encourage your client to also hold a licence so they can receive, store and share the coverage you share. 
  • If you hold your own copyright licence, you do NOT need to pay the copyright charge on your media monitoring bill - this is double dipping.  Let your media monitor know and they will remove that charge. They will want to know your licence details and the start and expiry date of your agreement.
  • There is no 'fair use' provision in copyright for commercial entities (for example only copying part of an article or publication).   
  • As an RCG member, you are entitled to safe haven from punitive action by The Copyright Agency for a breach (such as displaying media coverage on your website or social feed without holding a licence).
    Instead, you will be asked to bring your licence up to date and pay any outstanding licence fees (as opposed to the large fines that were once issued, on top of rectification charges). 

Please note: this is not legal advice, just general information. Contact The Copyright Agency directly to understand your rights and responsibilities in relation to the management of copyright material. Adam Benson, deputy chair of the RCG is also happy to provide general advice.