Copyright: Alternative dispute resolution the way to go?
Copyright law is a blunt instrument that struggles to keep up in a fast changing environment and litigation comes with a hefty price tag.
Perhaps it is time for the news industry to get together and determine the rules of engagement. The creation of an alternative dispute resolution mechanism for copyright has been a topic of discussion in the international legal fraternity and it might be a good strategy to address copyright disputes in journalism.
These were some of the thoughts put forward by the panel during a National Press Club discussion of the Moneyweb v Fin24 ruling on 17 May at emBARgo.
Prof Pamela Andanda of Wits University and editor of the South African Law Journal joined the discussion by Skype and intellectual property legal advisor Darren Olivier of law firm Adams & Adams joined members and guests at the venue. The third panellist was press club legal advisor and Rapport news editor Herman Scholtz.
Ananda followed the case very closely and wrote an academic paper on it, which will be published in July. She questioned the inconsistent treatment of the different articles by the court and the lack of evidence of originality on four of the Moneyweb articles. She also expressed concern about the interpretation of what “substantial” copying was.
She nevertheless said the court set out the legal principles clearly.
The panellists agreed that in proving a copyright infringement the plaintiff will first have to prove the work is original, and most authors agree that the bar for originality should not be set high, and then that a substantial part was copied.
The National Press Club plans to host more discussions about topical legal issues impacting the industry.
Press Club elects new executive committee
The National Press Club made history this month when three women were elected to the management positions of the club.
Tanya de Vente-Bijker, a freelance journalist, has been elected chairperson of the club. Simone Heradien, content editor at Rekord Newspaper has been elected deputy chairperson. Mandisa Mbele from the Competition Commission has been elected as the public relations officer. Martin Van Niekerk of Junxion Communications was re-elected treasurer.
“It is the first time in the history of the National Press Club that three women are elected to the management positions in the club,” de Vente-Bijker said. “We thank the club for the confidence placed in us and we believe we can move this club forward.”
They are joined by the elected executive committee members – former chairperson and general manager of the club Ben Rootman, Antoinette Slabbert of Moneyweb, Corné van Zyl of the Rekord and Elaine Swanepoel of Rapport. The other members are Jos Charle and Ntando Makhubu of the Pretoria News, Mosidi Mokgele of Absa, Phillip Bruwer of Maroela Media, Reynold Thakhuli of SANParks, Willem van de Putte of The Star and William Baloyi from of the Claasens Board of Enquiry. Herman Scholtz, news editor at Rapport, was also elected to the committee and appointed legal advisor to the club. He completed his LLM (Information and Communications Law) at Wits University.
“I believe the National Press Club has a very important to role to play in our industry and in our country. In the coming months the new committee will look into different ways that the club can contribute positively towards the industry,” said de Vente-Bijker.
“We will also continue to provide the networking platform for journalists and public relations practitioners as well as host our various existing projects,” she said.
Help record our history
As some members already know, National Press Club chairperson Tanya de Vente-Bijker is researching the history of the club for her master’s degree.
If anyone has any minutes of meetings, newsletters, statements, newspaper clippings or other documents of interest, especially from before 2000, please send her an email – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Independent Media grows market share and titles show stable performance in latest ABCs
Independent Media grew its share of the South African daily newspaper market by 3,2 percent and the weekend newspaper market by 1,6 percent compared to the same period last year. These results were released by the Audited Bureau of Circulation (ABC) which measures newspapers and magazine circulation performance.
In the past quarter, total South African newspapers declined marginally by 0,78 percent. Total daily newspapers declined by 2,6 percent, weekly newspapers remained static and weekend newspapers declined by 3 percent. Local newspapers increased by a marginal 0,5 percent.
Five of Independent Media’s daily newspapers showed solid performance in the period January to March 2016 compared to the previous quarter (October to December 2015). Isolezwe which grew by 4 percent and The Star, which grew by 2 percent, were the strongest performers in the Group. Pretoria News, Cape Argus and The Mercury showed marginal growth.
Four out of the six weekend newspapers which showed an increase compared to the previous quarter were also in the Independent Media stable. Saturday Star grew by an encouraging 3 percent while Independent on Saturday, Pretoria News Saturday and Weekend Argus each grew by 1 percent.
Independent Media’s market strength was further reinforced by the solid performance of its magazine division, Conde Nast Independent (CNI), which showed an overall increase of 1,1 percent compared to the previous quarter. GQ increased by 2,6 percent, Glamour increased by 1 percent and House and Garden remained stable.
“Our market share increase together with the solid circulation performance of some of our key publications, is a testimony to our readers’ confidence in our publications. All kudos to our hard-working editorial teams. I commend them for showing tenacity and commitment during this very trying time in the print media industry,” said executive chairman of Independent Media, Dr Iqbal Survé.
Journalism has essential and promising future in SA – Thloloe
Veteran South African journalist and Press Council director Joe Thloloe says that despite the often love-hate relationship between the media and particular individuals, the future of journalism in the country is both essential and promising.
“In general, the public love the work that the media is doing. If it was not for the persistent effort by the media, we would not have known about Nkandla,” Thloloe, who has more than 50 years’ experience in print and broadcast journalism and is a former press ombudsman, said in Port Elizabeth last week.
Thloloe, 73, was speaking to journalists regarding the Press Council’s release of an updated booklet on its code of ethics and conduct for South African print and online media.
The organisation has combined the work of the Press Council with that of online publication which is regulated by the Interactive Advertising Bureau of South Africa (IABSA).
“The public is aware of the tremendous work by journalists,” he said.
“However, there has been antagonism relating to certain individuals. If the media exposes the wrong, I [the subject] will forever hold grudges against the publication.
“But for those who read the story, they will say the media did an excellent job in exposing this. The love-hate relationship is a necessary relationship,” he said.
The booklet advises anybody who feels print or online publications have failed to live up to the press code of ethics and conduct to lodge a complaint with the Press Council’s public advocate – either by letter, fax, SMS or e-mail – within 20 working days of the publication of the story.
It further states that if necessary the public advocate will assist anyone in formulating the complaint.
For more details the Press Council can be reached at email@example.com.
Joe Thloloe delivered the National Press Club’s Percy Qoboza memorial lecture in 2013.