Cision Says Dow Jones Settlement is Part of a ‘Bigger Issue’

Cision’s North American CEO Peter Granat says the settlement that the media data and analytics company has reached with Dow Jones & Company is part of a “bigger issue” that impacts other service providers and PR pros.

In a phone call with PRNewser today, Granat says it has started working with licensing bodies here in the U.S. to avoid issues like the one that spurred the Dow Jones case.

Yesterday, Dow Jones announced that it had reached a settlement with Cision for an undisclosed though “significant” sum of money. Dow Jones claimed that Cision had engaged in the “unauthorized reproduction, distribution, and other misuse of news content” from The Wall Street JournalBarron’s, and SmartMoney magazines.

“Rights management and licensing will have to be put in place in a more formal structure,” Granat told us.

In a statement we received prior to the phone call, Granat said via email:

“Technology has made it incredibly easy to access and distribute content. As a result the challenge of copyright protection has become more complex for the industry and our customers.

It is going to require collaboration, education and partnering with our customers and rights holders to strike the right balance between compliance and meeting our customer’s needs.

Cision is committed to taking the lead on this initiative.”

At this point, Cision is not distributing Dow Jones content. Interested parties will have to go directly to Dow Jones directly. Granat says that circumstance only affects “a fraction of overall customers” — those that use the company’s monitoring service and, among those, the customers that are getting coverage in Dow Jones publications.

Cision is working with two organizations at this point to try and formalize the licensing and rights structure: NewsRight and Copyright Clearance Center.

“Content is being shared every day via links [and other methods],” Granat added. “I think it will come up as an issue for the larger PR industry.”

Today, Cision announced that it has hired Dawn Conway as SVP of global content licensing, in charge of acquiring all licensing content. Conway is an attorney, a member of the D.C. Court of Appeals, and previously worked as VP of global  licensing and content acquisition for LexisNexis.

Cision announced on its most recent interim earnings report a slight year-over-year dip in total revenue for the first quarter, to SEK 245 million this year (about $34.9 million) versus SEK 248 million in 2011. But there was also a small increase in Q1 2012 operating profit, to SEK 35 million  (about $5 million) from SEK 32 million for the same quarter the previous year.

“Overall, business is very healthy,” said Granat. “We’re putting social and digital content first. That has worked well for the business.”