SIPA's Resources for Legal Information and Advice

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The discussion yesterday and today on the SIPA Forum about preventing email newsletters to be illegally forwarded or shared sets a proper legal tone for this week. (If you are not on the incredibly information-filled SIPA Forum, sign up here.)

Answers so far in the Forum discussion have included:

  • A policy in the masthead (Hardlines) stating that "Reproduction in whole or in part is very uncool and strictly forbidden and really and truly against the law."
  • Limiting the content you put in emails. (Money-Media)
  • "Education. Education. Education. The more you can inform your customers about copyright and licensing issues, the better," wrote Lesley Ellen Harris of
  • Software (with an interface designed for us) that emails a secure PDF to customers, who then use a simple login to download the newsletter. (Beverage-Digest)

Harris points to an article she wrote a few years ago that is just "as relevant today" on the subject. Here are a few suggestions from that article:

  1. A summary of the terms and conditions, written in straightforward language, is [most] helpful [to subscribers] – perhaps including specific examples of what is permitted under the license... The summary should include a contact name or e-mail address for further questions.
  2. The first step may be to provide users with the basics about copyright law and to explain that a license agreement gives permission to use content, not ownership of the content.
  3. Include copyright information on each reproduced article or item in the database (e.g., content owner's name and email address).
  4. Patrons, researchers and other end users should be explicitly made aware of copyright law and license agreements - wherever and whenever access to licensed content is made available.
  5. Training is crucial in instilling greater confidence among end users in using licensed content and perhaps even increasing its use, thereby contributing to overall growth in the legal use of licensed content.

SIPA has other ways to help you on the legal front:

- In May there was a SIPA webinar on Protecting Copyright Online and Policing Infringement, that, as a member, you can listen to free (along with a whole set of informed webinars). Key takeaways included online registration, watermarking, embedding metadata, copyright notice, access controls and digital rights management. Here is the link.

- SIPA has compiled a package of sample documents for member use. There's a freelance writer agreement, a permitted use agreement, an audio conference permission form, and many more. There are also a whole set of job descriptions there for your use, from Ad Operations Coordinator to Videography Internship.

- Witliff Cutter Austin PLLC provides SIPA members with free consultation on domestic issue areas, including general counsel services, freedom of information, privacy, copyright, financing/corporate law, licensing, data breach and most other domestic issues that would confront a publisher or technology company. Preferred rates are also granted. Contact: Jack A. Simms, Jr. at

- In January, SIPA held a webinar on Content Licensing 101 with Paul Gerbino, partner, Triumvirate Content Consultants. Listen to this excellent webinar here, and, for more on this revenue stream, Gerbino will present a Pre-con Workshop at our Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) titled Understanding Content as a Revenue Generator Beyond Core Products.

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…