From the Legal Hotline (1-877-NEWS-LAW)
Q. Our weekly free publication recently successfully completed an AAM/BPA audit that validates the minimum qualifications for carrying paid public notices. What validating documentation/confirmation is necessary on your end to show we meet the audit threshold requirement in the statute?
A. We don’t have such documentation. Each paper works with their own auditor and gov. officials to supply the proper audit info. and any other info. they might require. Feel free to use the “ad bug” as a nice template for marketing purposes. If you have trouble with the ad bug, we can help. Here is an example:
Q. We received a demand letter from a law firm (CopyCat Legal) claiming its client’s images may have been used without authorization, demanding large damages, and asking for a response if they were “mistaken” or if the image was previously licensed. We followed up by contacting our creative licensing agency and they dug through their files to confirm that the picture we used was on their site and that we used it legally and that the law firm’s client did not actually own the copyright. We have forwarded that info onto the law firm that sent the letter. Did we respond appropriately?
A. Yes, you were wise to quickly look into the law firm’s claims and determine the photo didn’t actually belong to their client, as it’s copyrighted by another party. Members should be aware that these types of copyright demand letters are being sent by law firms, and some, like this one, are not valid. Attached is an article I wrote a few years about these letters and suggested tips on avoiding and responding to them. The bottom line is that if you are unsure, take the photo down while the issues are being sorted out, and preserve any records regarding how it was obtained, why it was used, and the number of views.
Q. Our county is headed in the direction of setting up a county website under the new public notice law, and I’m trying to get out in front of that. I’ve been told that there’s about 20% of notices that will have to continue running in the paper, even if a county sets up a website. Can you tell me what those are?
A. Most of the major county government notices can run on the county website if the county sets this system up pursuant to the new law. There are a few county notices that apparently still require newspaper notice but I am not sure what percentage of notices falls in this category. On the other hand, semi-private sector notices relating to real property foreclosures probate, storage units, fictitious names and the like, continue to require newspaper notice. I have a more detailed analysis if you need it.
Q. We are in the process of having our audit done so that we can continue publishing legal notices. We currently hold a 2nd class mailing permit, and my question is: once we have successfully met the new requirements to publish legal notices that includes the certain digital requirements, will we still need to have a 2nd class mailing permit in order to publish legal notices?
A. If you rely on a USPS periodicals permit to accept legal ads, that requirement remains in place, and it alone allows you to run legal notices. As a result, you should continue to maintain your permit. [The new law also allows papers to qualify if they meet certain audited circulation levels. Some free weekly newspapers take this route because it is more difficult for them to obtain a permit.]