Advertising and Fair Usage: Is It Really Fair?

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In New Zealand, Sky chief executive John Fellet recently hit out at the newspaper industry for using Sky’s sports content in their reporting. He argued that it was unfair of them to upload these clips and add advertising to them. However, this usage falls under fair use and so isn’t deemed a breach of copyright. Although it might be legally fair, is the addition of advertising morally fair?

Fair Use of News Coverage

Copyright laws usually have a clause about fair use. This allows for people to use content, such as text, images or video footage, for news reporting, comment and even parody. Since news outlets and media organizations use various methods of advertising, it could be difficult for them to avoid profiting from using content under fair usage rules.

Newspapers and Sites Relying on Advertising

Advertising has always been an important source of revenue for newspapers and media organizations. Those that don’t rely on advertising need funds from elsewhere, such as the BBC’s TV license or PBS donations. As newspapers have moved online, advertising has become even more important for their survival. Some papers charge a subscription fee to access their online articles, but the majority make money from advertising alone.

Media Advertising in the Past

The media and the press have used advertising to support them for a long time. Even the first newspapers needed adverts to help fund them. Advertorials, articles intended to promote a product, have also been common. It would be very hard for newspapers to avoid using advertising whenever they use content from elsewhere.

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Student @ Advanced Digital Sciences Center, Singapore. Travelled to 30+ countries, passion for basketball.