Solent News and Photo Agency has accused the Press Association of breaching its copyright over an exclusive interview conducted with the father of murdered landscape architect Jo Yeates.
The independent news agency claimed it was consulting lawyers after an exclusive interview with David Yeates on 28 December was ‘lifted’from a regional newspaper and distributed across the PA news wire.
The National Association of Press Agencies, which represents independent news agencies, has written to Press Association editor Jonathan Grun to ‘protest strongly’over claims it distributed a story which was written by a Napa member agency.
Napa issued a statement yesterday afternoon saying Solent distributed its article to a number of ‘selected publications”, including the Southern Daily Echo, with whom it has a close relationship.
After the Echo published the story on its website, Solent claims staff saw that the story had been reproduced ‘word for word’on the Daily Mirror website but with a handful of additional words saying Yeates had ‘told the Southern Daily Echo”.
David Holt, of Solent, said the agency discovered the piece had been distributed to the national paper, and other titles, by the Press Association under the byline Rod Minchin.
Holt claims to have asked PA to remove the story from its wire service, adding that PA was only prepared to change the attribution.
He said: “This wasn’t a case of someone nicking a couple of grab quotes. It was a wholesale lift – they had filed 237 words, the Mirror piece was 241 words long.
‘Once you removed the phrase ‘told the Southern Daily Echo,’ there was a single word of difference between the two.”
Holt accused PA of ‘stealing’his agency’s story.
‘To find our original work running, without license, on numerous newspaper websites as far afield as Lancashire and Belfast, was galling,’he said.
‘The Press Association charge a subscription rate to these newspapers, so have simply sold the work without permission.”
Solent also claimed that on 30 December, a second exclusive interview with the parents of Jo Yeates posted on the Southern Evening Echo’s website was similarly reproduced in its entirety by PA.
According to the Napa statement, Solent’s lawyers are writing to PA asking for payment for the copy and damages for the breach of copyright on the grounds it didn’t have permission to publish Solent’s content and still went ahead despite numerous requests to recall the story.
In Napa’s letter to Grun, the organisation’s treasurer Chris Johnson said the incident marked ‘a new low in the operation of PA’as he called for the national press agency to apologise.
In a brief statement issued to Press Gazzette, Grun said: “The Press Association has at all time acted in good faith in our reporting of this story.”