Under the Copyright Act No 98 of 1978, the sharing or distribution of news items is prohibited and subject to a licence fee. Until 2013, no formal regulation other than the act existed and no enforcement took place. In 2012, the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Rights Organisation (DALRO) signed agreements with some of the publishing houses to manage the process of collection and enforcement of copyright for print reproduction of news information.

In a nutshell, media organisations consider their journalistic contributions as copyright protected, and the use thereof should carry a fee, similar to photography, books or movies.

If you are an organisation or an individual, private sector or public sector, international or local, and you obtain copies of print media coverage (see definition of ‘copy’ later in the Q & A), you have to pay a fee to the owner of that information in order for you to use it, either commercially or non-commercially. If you distribute the copies electronically, or by hand, to any number of individuals, – it requires a licence, and a fee.

Technically, all media organisations have the right to request a licence for its original work. SAMMA, through DALRO, currently offers a licence for print media only, and only for the selected media houses. A list of those media is available from SAMMA. For all other print media, neither SAMMA nor DALRO are offering a licence, but this might be added as and when DALRO adds other publishing houses to those managing licences on their behalf.

You are free to tweet, retweet, forward, share as much as you like. Currently, copyright does not extend to online coverage as long as you stick to the original link and you don’t share the actual content.

Radio and television are protected by the Copyright Act, but the enforcement is up to the media houses themselves. Please get in touch with the relevant organisation if you wish to licence the sharing of broadcast information.

The licence you obtain is just for you. Should you share the clippings with your clients, you need to obtain a licence on behalf of your client. Sharing of the information with external parties is illegal.

You obtain a licence per individual copy. Should you share the same copy within the organisation, you do not need another licence. Should you make more copies of the original copy, you do need another licence.
Copy means a reproductive copy, including but not limited to a digital copy. According to the copyright act, it is considered ‘shared’ when

  • It is made available online, by electronic transmission, by email, telefax, software
  • Scanned or copied
  • Personally delivered, couriered, posted

The costs are 35 cents for each clip that you view. Viewing constitutes the physical opening of the reproduction of the clip by the user. If you open it in your browser, ‘right-click’ to save on your desktop or ‘pre-view’ it online – it means you are physically accessing the clip and it is considered as viewed. However, the same user can view the same clip as often as he/she wants to – the charge is only applicable once. Please note, however, that should you forward the actual clip (e.g. in pdf format) or send someone else the link, this constitutes a new ‘view’ and the 35c fee is again applicable.

How you will be invoiced for viewing the clip is not regulated by SAMMA. Your media monitoring agency can charge you on a monthly basis, on a pay-per-view basis, or work it into a retainer. This is something that you will need to negotiate with your agency.

It is important to note that the fee charged is not kept by the media monitoring agency but transferred in full to Dalro, which in turn passes it on to the author of the relevant article.

Media monitoring companies that are Small Medium Enterprises, as defined by the Department of Trade and Industry and part of SAMMA, will charge you only 17.5c for each clip as a way to assist them with business development.

Each country has its own set of systems to deal with copyright. We recommend the following link on that subject: http://www.freeandlegaldownloads.com/resources/copyright