Public Relations Protest p. 12

By: Dorothy Giobbe Group of authors charge Public Relations Society of America
with unfairly reprinting and distributing their work;
Society maintains it has made "fair use" of the material sp.

A DOZEN WRITERS claim that the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has unfairly distributed and profited from their copyrighted work.
For almost 18 years, PRSA has compiled chapters from books and excerpts of published articles into "information packets" which the association loans for a fee.
For PRSA members, the fee is $17. The general public pays $55, plus a $3 postage and handling charge.
The writers ? some of whom are members of PRSA ? say the society never asked permission to use the work.
Also, the writers believe they have a right to a share of the loan fees.
Raymond Gaulke, COO of PRSA and a former chief marketing officer of the Newspaper Association of America, referred calls about the matter to John Beardsley, president of PRSA.
"We plan to talk to people on the writer's committee who are members of PRSA and see if they feel aggrieved in any way," Beardsley said.
"But we also want to make clear that we have operated within the privilege of fair use."
PRSA provides the information packets as a "public service," Beardsley said, and does not make a profit. The PRSA loan program, Beardsley said, "actually operates at a slight loss."
"We send out loan packets for about $55 and about half of that goes to Copyright Clearence Center (CCC)," Beardsley said."The rest goes to cover our costs."
The CCC is an agency through which permission to photocopy certain material is granted. PRSA joined CCC almost a year ago, Beardsley said.
Isabella Hinds, director of professional relations for the company, said "CCC operates on a contractual basis. We represent very specific rights holders. We have been very clear with PRSA that there are a number of publishers that have decided to use our service.
"That does not represent any kind of blanket authorization. There are publishers who choose not to use our service," she said.
Some of the material included in the information packets originally was published in Quill and Association Trends. According to a search of CCC's member database, the two are not members of the service. Articles from Editor & Publisher, a member of CCC, also were included in the packets.
Jack O'Dwyer, a representative of the authors' group and publisher of O'Dwyer's Newsletter, said the group recently drafted a letter summarizing the authors' position. The letter has been sent to members of PRSA's voting body, which will convene Oct. 28, in Seattle, for the group's national conference.
In an interview, O'Dwyer said, "We [authors] did not create our works to be chopped up and sold piecemeal for someone else's profit."
Members of the authors' group also are troubled by what they perceive as an ethical lapse on PRSA's part. It's only common sense to ask whether material can be used, they say, not to mention good public relations.
Howard Hudson, the publisher of PR Quarterly, a member of the authors' group and a former chapter president of PRSA, said he was "startled" to discover his writings were being used by the association.
"An association of public relations people should adhere to the highest ethical standards," he said. "I always thought this was something very important."
Jill Cornish, publisher of Association Trends said the magazine allows associations "to republish our articles in their own publications, but only with credit to Association Trends."
"We do not allow anybody to copy us and that's exactly what they [PRSA] are doing. We want them to publicly apologize and say this has stopped."
In Associations Trends, Cornish wrote, "Since I've not received any payment for materials copied and included in the packets, I'm hoping for a great big check in the mail soon ? but I won't hold my breath!"
The Author's Guild Inc., one of the premiere writer's associations, released a statement on the issue.
"Only authors and their licensees have the right to reproduce, adapt, distribute or publicly display their work or give others permission to do so. . . . It is absurd for anyone to claim that the fair use doctrine protects unauthorized, systematic reproduction and selling of entire chapters or articles."
?(O'Dwyer said, "We [authors] did not create our works to be chopped up and sold piecemeal for someone else's profit.") [Caption]


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