The Press Association has agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to a freelance news agency after it ‘lifted’ an exclusive interview with murder victim Jo Yeates’ father.
Solent News and Photo Agency, backed by the National Association of Press Agencies, took on PA after the wire service lifted and distributed the interview word-for-word.
Solent had distributed the first story on 28 December to a number of selected publications including the Southern Daily Echo.
Shortly after they had filed, its staff noticed that the story has been been reproduced on the Daily Mirror website. The story featured each and every one of the agency quotes, but quoted Mr Yeates as having ‘told the Southern Daily Echo.’
However PA argued it had acted in good faith and refused to withdraw the story. Editor Jonathan Grun said: “We do not recognise the interpretation of the matter as outlined in Solent’s colourful press release.
“The quotes from Jo Yeates’s family were in the public domain on a newspaper website and were clearly attributed in our story.
“When Solent’s copyright in the quotes was asserted we reached a mutually satisfactory settlement. We believe that we acted in good faith on a sensitive story involving the parents of a murder victim.”
With the backing of the NAPA the case was then referred to specialist media lawyers and a settlement has now been reached. The money will be donated to a journalists’ charity.
David Holt of Solent said: “This was never about money. It was about journalistic practice and, to some extent, the future of journalism, particularly on the internet.
“Our work seems to have been blithely copied and pasted by someone sat at a computer miles away from the subject of the story, in this case grieving relatives, and put out for consumption, apparently without a second thought.
“This wasn’t a case of someone grabbing a couple of quotes. It was a wholesale lift. We had filed 237 words, the piece by PA which was published in numerous newspapers and websites was 241 words and included the attribute ‘told the Southern Daily Echo,’ which was of course wrong.
“We ended-up head to head with PA’s lawyers. They tried to tell us that they had every right, that we did not have a case and even threatened to sue us if we dared to suggest that there was anything untoward.”
NAPA enlisted the services of specialist IP lawyer Bill Lister of Pannone LLP, who engaged with PA’s lawyers. This iresulted in a full written settlement with PA in which the wire service agreed to pay Solent and NAPA’s legal costs in full.