Checklist of Legal / Risk Issues for Publishers

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    Media & Technology lawyer, Peter Karcher, takes a look at some key risk areas for Publishers.


    Register your mastheads as trade marks. Domain names, Business and company name registrations don’t give you protection for the name as against other traders. Do a search, or get us to do one, before deciding on a new masthead, as the name may not be available.


    While content that an employee creates is generally owned by the employer, content created by a freelance contributor is generally not, unless you agree in writing that it is. If you are sourcing a fair amount of content from external contributors, most publishers develop a standard contributors agreement that deals with fees / payment, ownership of content, usage rights, re-use fees, and liability issues.


    These need to deal with issues including payment, liability for misleading advertising, flexibility to edit ad content and re-position advertising.


    While not all publishers are captured by the Privacy Act, most publishers want to adopt best practice compliance, given the importance to subscribers of transparency and disclosure with their personal information. This is especially the case if you are going to use your database for marketing purposes or make it available to third parties who may do so, or if there is a chance that the personal information you hold will be transferred offshore. You will need a compliant privacy policy, but you will also need advice on how to implement it, and how best to get consent to your privacy terms in the data collection process.


    Publishers generally deal with defamation issues as they arise, however it is good to have some knowledge of the law in this area so you know how to deal with liability issues quickly and confidently when they arise. Often it is advisable to get some pre-publication advice and clearance where the subject matter is potentially controversial. Particular liability issues arise in the context of forums, chats and blogs where other people are posting on your platform.


    So that you don’t end up liable for claims of copyright infringement or unpaid licence fees, you should be aware of what copyright protects and the limited exceptions that allow you to use third party copyright material without the owner’s consent.


    We have considerable experience in masthead and magazine licensing, both from the perspective of licensor and licensee. There are a few tricks and traps so it’s best to take advice on protecting your interests in a licensed publication arrangement.

    ClarkeKann is a commercial law firm with offices in Brisbane and Sydney. Our expertise covers commercial & corporate transactions, employment & IR, financial services, litigation, risk management and insolvency, property transactions and resources projects, across a range of industries. For a full list of our legal services, please visit our website at To update your contact details or unsubscribe to any of our publications, email us at

    This bulletin is produced as general information in summary for clients and subscribers and should not be relied upon as a substitute for detailed legal advice or as a basis for formulating business or other decisions. ClarkeKann asserts copyright over the contents of this document. This bulletin is produced by ClarkeKann. It is intended to provide general information in summary form on legal topics, current at the time of publication. The contents do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular matters. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation. Privacy Policy
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