Can Newspapers Charge To Quote Reviews??

By Brian Taylor Goldstein

Dear Law & Disorder:

I recently came across the website of an artist management agency in Europe where they had posted the following: “The press review is temporarily not available. German newspapers Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Süddeutsche Zeitung recently started to pursue institutions and artists using texts (press reviews, interviews, commentaries etc.) published by those newspapers on their websites or in any other commercial context without having paid for them. We have been advised to remove all press quotations from our website as the same phenomenon seems to happen in other countries like Switzerland and Austria.” Is this a copyright trend that will spread to other European countries and the USA? Will agents, and artists have to start paying for the use of (press reviews, interviews, commentaries) used to promote an artists career? Also, if an American agency has press reviews, interviews, commentaries from Europeans newspapers on their websites, such as from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Süddeutsche Zeitung, will these agencies be liable for payment of the use for this information, as well, as it is being used in a commercial context? (Thank you for your column on Musical America, and I also thank Ms. Challener for her leadership in including such information in the weekly email Musical America updates.)

Newspapers and magazines have always owned the exclusive rights to the articles, reviews, editorials, and interviews they publish. Just like you can’t make copies of sheet music, CDs, books, and other copyrighted materials, you cannot make copies of articles and reviews and re-post them without the owner’s permission. Even if you are not “re-selling” an article or review, anything that is used to promote, advertise, or sell a product or service (ie: an artist!) is a “commercial” use.” While “quoting” or “excerpting” a positive review is most often considered a limited “fair use”, making copies of the entire article or review is not. While it should go without saying, you also cannot “edit” or revise articles and reviews in an effort to make a bad review sound more positive. (That’s not only copyright infringement, but violates a number of other laws as well!)

The website you encountered was in response to certain German newspapers, in particular, who began making significant efforts to require anyone who wanted to copy or quote their articles or reviews to pay a licensing fee. In the United States, for the most part, most newspapers and magazines have not actively pursued agents or managers who have quoted articles and reviews on their websites to promote their artists. However, I am aware of managers and agents who have been contacted by certain publications where entire articles have been copied and made available for download. In such cases, the publication has demanded that the copy either be licensed or removed. I also know of agents and managers who have posted unlicensed images on their websites and then been contacted by the photographers demanding licensing fees.

As for the ability of an American agent to quote or copy articles from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Süddeutsche Zeitung, under the applicable international copyright treaties, they could require American agents to pay as well. While I don’t necessarily see this becoming a trend among US publications, its certainly worthwhile to reflect that anytime an agent, manager, or presenter uses images, articles, videos, other materials to promote an artist or performance, there are copyright and licensing considerations that need to be taken into consideration.

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For additional information and resources on this and other legal and business issues for the performing arts, visit ggartslaw.com

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All questions on any topic related to legal and business issues will be welcome. However, please post only general questions or hypotheticals. GG Arts Law reserves the right to alter, edit or, amend questions to focus on specific issues or to avoid names, circumstances, or any information that could be used to identify or embarrass a specific individual or organization. All questions will be posted anonymously.

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THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE!

The purpose of this blog is to provide general advice and guidance, not legal advice. Please consult with an attorney familiar with your specific circumstances, facts, challenges, medications, psychiatric disorders, past-lives, karmic debt, and anything else that may impact your situation before drawing any conclusions, deciding upon a course of action, sending a nasty email, filing a lawsuit, or doing anything rash!

Tags: agent, artist, Brian Taylor, cannot make copies, commentaries, commercial context, copy, copyright, copyright infringement, european countries, Goldstein, license, Licensing, manager, permission, photograph, quotations

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