Got a licence to copy that?

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A new campaign aimed at raising awareness of copyright issues around published articles in New Zealand print publications may deliver a shock to many management, marketing and PR representatives, according to the promoters of the campaign.

“Although the PMCA – Print Media Copyright Agency – was set up over a decade ago to provide licences to anyone wanting to copy articles that have appeared in NZ newspapers or magazines, the legal requirement to obtain a licence to do so will still be a surprise to many,” reckons PMCA head Julian Jones.

“Many businesses are unaware that copying articles that appear in newspapers or magazines is actually contravening NZ copyright laws and could mean the company may be liable to be fined,” he said.

“The issue lies in the fact that businesses and individuals have been copying – either by using a photocopier, fax, or electronically forwarding as email attachments – for years without any knowledge that by doing so it is technically illegal.”

The campaign aims to raise awareness and understanding of the fact that ultimately the content of all articles that appear in the print media in New Zealand are subject to copyright. To copy or distribute an article either by hard copy or email, you need to pay a licence fee.

“There’s a good deal of misunderstanding around who needs to purchase a licence,” Jones says. “Many believe if an article is about their company or contains company information generated from a press release issued on behalf of their company, they are freely entitled to copy and distribute the article.

“However this is not the case. Even in situations where 90% of the copy was generated via a press release, the final article and its typography is still subject to copyright and a licence to copy and distribute.”

Jones says the New Zealand PMCA model follows that of many similar international models including the UK, Ireland, Sweden and Australia, and includes licence levels that cover both hard and electronic copying and distribution – internally within organisations, as well as to external clients and agencies.

“The small team at the PMCA has been methodically contacting government departments and management teams at organizations for years trying to educate representatives, but the publishers the PMCA represented had seen the need for a blanket awareness campaign to build recognition and knowledge of how to seek permission for the right to copy.

“Timed with a relaunched website, which will allow businesses to apply for copyright licences online, the new PMCA campaign aims to clear up confusion and copyright contravention.

‘It’s important to raise awareness of the PMCA and the purpose it serves. We hope the new campaign and website will help to take some of the confusion out of the process,” he says.

  • Contact Julian Jones at the PMCA on 04 498 4487 or go to

Examples of the new PMCA advertising campaign are attached here.


About the PMCA

The PMCA is authorised by the publishers of a large range of New Zealand newspapers and magazines to grant non-exclusive licences to copy cuttings. The statutory framework for the PMCA is the Copyright Act 1994.

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