International copyright and the media monitoring industry

Explore the complexities surrounding copyright and media monitoring, the role of the European Copyright Directive, and how we navigate and manage these processes.
09 June 2020
media monitoring copyright
christophe dickes

Global Copyright Director & Strategic Projects Manager, Media Division

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Today, there is no international institution allowing a company running a media monitoring service to produce press reviews and its clients to redistribute them legally. Only at a national level do the majority of publishers give permission to collective management organisations to licence their content and to collect the copyright fees for the use of their content on their behalf. Some of these organisations include the CFC in France, the NLA Media Access and the CLA (Copyright licencing Agency) in the UK, and Cedro in Spain.

The purpose of these collective management organisations is to defend the publishers’ interests in the media monitoring market. Each time a media monitoring company – such as Kantar – makes an article available to its client, it pays a copyright fee. In several markets (UK, France, Spain), if this client re-distributes this article internally within its company or organisation, additional fees apply.

Managing copyrights internationally

Thanks to reciprocity agreements between these collective management organisations, the use of press or web articles from other markets is possible. For example, a UK company which uses French or Spanish media content does not have to take a licence in France or Spain. Thanks to the system of reciprocity agreements, it will be able to declare to the NLA Media Access, on the UK territory, the foreign content used and the NLA Media Access will pay the CFC and Cedro for the use of their members’ content.

This model of international management of copyrights is simple and straightforward and works effectively for all players: publishers, service providers, clients and collective management organisations. It also provides flexibility to support the difference in rights from one country to another. Kantar works with all of these rights organisations to guarantee our clients maximum legal security in the use of the media.

Direct and Exclusive agreements

The situation is different when the publisher wants direct agreements with monitoring companies rather than with collective management organisations. For such agreements to be possible, it is necessary to consider unique market needs, including its legal legislative laws.

In Germany and Switzerland, for example, the use of the foreign press by companies is subject to a system of mandatory collective management organised by law, which is binding on both local and foreign publishers.

Elsewhere, in Canada and the Netherlands, publishers have entrusted their rights exclusively to one service provider. This means that a media monitoring company is obliged to work with this single service provider, even though the latter may be a competitor!

Such a solution is not without risk for all the players in the monitoring market including publishers, media monitoring companies and their clients. By granting the exclusive access to information to a single service provider, the publisher may create a competitive advantage for this provider. Moreover, such a system creates both administrative and technical barriers to access the Media. Weary, the end client may not wish to overcome such barriers and can decide to do without media content that may concern them.

The role of monitoring companies in an over-informed world

Such a choice is not without risk for the publisher whose brand disappears from the press reviews used by the Communication Directors and the CMOs and organisations to build their strategy with the media environment. However, press reviews are not intended to replace publishers, especially as the media monitoring market remains a niche market. In a world of information overload, characterised by fake news and uncertainty, it is necessary for organisations to work with intermediaries in order to gather information, analyse, understand and make content available in compliance with copyright law. This is the role of media monitoring companies like Kantar; to cover all the media.

This principle of exhaustive media coverage was recognised in a legal case in the New York court. In TV Eyes vs Fox news (2014) case, Judge Alvin Hellerstein stated that media monitoring is a service essential for democracies and freedom because it is impossible for an institution to monitor all information by itself. Monitoring providers are therefore an essential cog in the wheel of information societies.

At Kantar we believe that it’s necessary to facilitate access to all information. This can only be done outside of exclusive agreements, which would otherwise create a dominant position for a single player, which could lead to abuses. Wherever we work, we defend copyright. This is an ethical issue for us. It is crucial that we defend a fair market in which all providers abide by the same rules.

If you have any questions about the management of copyright within the framework of our services, please get in touch.

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