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Opposition to Complex Copyright Charges

December 16, 2002

Opposition to Publishers' Complex Copyright Charges On Business

Opposition is mounting among communication industry groups to the Newspaper Publishers' Association's move to launch its own copyright agency, collect higher fees from press clipping bureaus and impose a direct levy on all businesses who copy and distribute press clippings.

While press clipping bureaus and other industry organisations such as public relations consultancies are supportive of the idea of a copyright fee collection regime they say the Print Media Copyright Agency's scheme is unfair because it is too expensive and involves a secondary user or 'double dipping' charge based on staff numbers not clipping usage.

In its first year it could impose millions of dollars of extra costs on New Zealand business, for no increase in service, depending on how successful the new copyright agency is at signing up businesses to the new licensing scheme which takes effect on January 1, 2003.

Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ) president, Tim Marshall says the institute was not consulted before the scheme was developed.

"If they had consulted we would have been able to tell them the scheme is expensive and that many businesses will simply stop buying press clippings as a result," he says. "I believe that ultimately means the PMCA won't be able to collect the money, the extra revenue, this system is supposed to bring in."

The PMCA system means businesses will be charged by a press clipping bureau for their clippings and then charged again by the PMCA for any copying or distribution. That levy is based on the number of clips received by the business and the number of people employed i.e. how many employees a business has, not how many people actually see the clips, or how many are distributed.

Public relations firms who receive press clippings from the bureaus and pass them on to their clients will also be charged new licence fees.

Chairman of this country's largest public relations consultancy Porter Novelli, Cedric Allan, says this is the equivalent to clipping the same ticket a third time and some businesses will find their press clipping bills will more than double overnight with no increase in service.

"The PMCA is just double dipping, and even treble dipping and it is a very complex way of attempting to gain more money. And how is the PMCA going to police its system? There are many thousands of companies and other organisations in New Zealand who use press clippings and the only way you can force them to pay for a licence is with the threat of legal action."

Organisations affected by and upset at the PMCA's new scheme will meet in January to work out a campaign to persuade the PMCA to modify the scheme.


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