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Copyright agency catches up with councils

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More councils have coughed up cash for a copyright licence after legal action cost one authority more than £100,000.

A further 20 councils have paid up to the Copyright Licensing Agency since Brighton & Hove City Council were forced to hand over £101,00 in copyright fess and legal costs  - but the body is still pursuing another 140 who do not have licences.

Martin Delaney, the agency’s legal director, said: “I am pleased to see that councils are recognising their legal requirement for a CLA licence. This will help us to protect the UK creative industries, worth more than £36.2bn to the UK economy.”

However, he said the remaining 140 councils without licences were still being pursued. “Our data shows that copying is widespread during the course of day-to-day activities,” he said. “There is no reason to doubt that these practices occur in all of the remaining unlicensed local authorities as well.”

Back in April, Brighton & Hove argued they had a ‘no copying’ policy and did not have to renew the licence they had cancelled in 2008. However, an investigation by the agency concluded members of staff were not following the policy.

The settlement reached with Brighton was kept under wraps at the time but a subsequent Freedom of Information request revealed the council paid £17,947 for an annual licence, a further £67,301 in backdated fees and a £16,500 contribution to the agency’s legal costs.

Since then 20 councils have responded to demands for payment, 10 of which have made backdated payments following advice from the agency that this would reduce the risk of legal action for retrospective copying.

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