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General Principles Underlying PR Practice
- - Act in the public interest - find the greater good for the majority of the people.
- - Use honesty and integrity as your guide
- - Ensure accuracy and truth - do not disseminate false or misleading information; If you accidentally do not make an error, correct it immediately with all audiences
- - Deal fairly with all publics - respect yourself and others; leave proprietary materials related to your old job behind
6 Values in PRSA Code of Ethics
- 1. Advocacy
- 2. Honesty
- 3. Expertise
- 4. Independence
- 5. Loyalty
- 6. Fairness
What are the 6 code provisions of the PRSA Code of Ethics?
- 1. Free Flow of Information
- 2. Competition
- 3. Disclosure of Information
- 4. Safeguarding Confidences
- 5. Conflicts of Interests
- 6. Enhancing the Profession
6 Decision-Making Guidelines in PRSA Code of Ethics
- 1. Define the specific ethical issue/conflict
- 2. Identify internal/external factors that may influence the decision
- 3. Identify the key values
- 4. Identify parties to be affected and PR professionals' obligation to each
- 5. Select ethical principals to guide the decision process
- 6. Make a decision and justify
Two major goals of copyright laws are to protect the original creator of the work and to provide economic incentive for new knowledge. The statutory definition expresses that copyright existsin “original works of authorship in any tangible medium of expression. . . from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated” (17 U.S. Constitution, Sec. 102, as noted in Broom,2009, EPR, p. 157). Any written sources that are not original should be cited in following works. In addition, Internet references also should adhere to traditional copyright procedures for securing appropriate permissions and/or indicate proper citations.
Common law copyright
An author who creates a tangible expression of his or her ideas immediately acquires common law copyright of the work. This right continues until the author dedicates work to the public by a general publication, or surrenders common law right to obtain specific statutory copyright protection. The purpose of copyright law is to protect an author’s intellectual production. The dividing line between common law copyright and statutory copyright is publication. Statutory copyright is a legal word or act—the act by which the author makes the work available to the world while retaining control of the creative expression.Two types of publication exist. General publication is any overt act that indicates the intention to surrender one’s right to control one’s creative expression and allow the public to copy the material. If there is a general publication and the author has not obtained statutory copyright and does not use the copyright symbol, ©, he has no further right to prevent the use by the public. Limited publication, such as delivery of a manuscript to a possible purchaser, does not cause the author to lose any common law rights.
To obtain statutory copyright, an author must submit to the Library of Congress and display the copyright symbol © on the material. Creative expression of ideas is subject to copyright. Securing a statutory copyright is simple. Notice/use of the copyright symbol must be on the very first copy sold or publicity distributed.
Ownership of copyright for photography and artwork
The contract between your organization and the non-employee who takes photos or creates artwork determines who owns the copyright. The copyright owner determines use and the cost of use of the creative work. Be clear about the ownership of both the negatives and hard copies of photos or artwork in the contract you develop with your legal counsel. The organization owns an employees’ work done on behalf of the organization.
Defamation is untruth that damages a reputation. Written or pictorial defamation is known as libel; spoken or verbal defamation is known as slander and need not be spoken in a public setting. To qualify as defamation, the statement must be untrue. To be defamed or damaged, an exposed person or organization must prove three conditions were present: hatred, contempt, ridicule. Damage must also be proven. Reports of official proceedings are privileged and cannot be charged with libel. To be actionable for libel, five elements must be present: defamation, identification, communications (publication/broadcast), fault (malice or negligence), and damage (in absence of fault, provable damages or injury). Since a public figure puts himself or herself out before the public, actual malice must be proven by a public figure.
This privilege insulates a reporter or publication against defamation (libel or slander). Not a license to circulate derogatory information, the information must be related to community interest with the subject. Fair comment is a recognized defense against a libel action, based on the argument that the statement was either true or privileged (taken from a public document). Be aware that although truth is the traditional defense against libel, truth is hard to prove. Fair comment, which involves privacy, should not be confused with fair use, which involves copyright.
Four defenses for Libel
- fair comment
- retraction. Retraction is a full and prompt apology that helps mitigate damages.
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
A U.S. digital rights management (DRM) law enacted on Oct. 28, 1998, created an updated version of copyright laws to deal with the special challenges of regulating digital material. Broadly, the aim of DMCA is to protect the rights of both copyright owners and consumers.
This law allows use or parts of copyrighted materials without violating copyright laws and without paying a royalty or fee when used for: criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research. Drawing the line as to what is fair use is one of the most difficult problems of copyright law. Fair use originally applied to printed works. With the advent of digital technology and the Internet, fair use now also applies to the redistribution of music, photographs, videos and software. Fair use is usually determined on the special facts of each case. If you begin to question how you’re using something or how much you’re using, be cautious. Public relations professionals should note that fair use does not apply to commercial use. Fair use that involves copyright should not be confused with fair comment that involves privacy.
Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938
Public relations practitioners working for any “foreign principals” must register under this act, whether they are directly lobbying U.S. government officials or not. The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 also relates to the above act in a broad context requiring anyone in a public relations or related position representing a foreign government to register and label lobbying materials as “political propaganda”
This legal term describes rights or entitlements that apply to the ownership and use of certain types of information, ideas or other concepts in an expressed form.
New York Times vs. Sullivan
This ruled that actual malice must be proven by a public figure.
Right of privacy
- This law, important for public relations professionals to know, ensures an individual’s right to be left alone and can be violated if names, likeness, and/or information is used for commercial purposes. It differs from defamation and is a practical effort to protect the individual who does not relish the unexpected appearance of his or her picture, story or testimonial in the public media. The publication need only injure the feelings of the person, even though it may not have any effect on his or her reputation. Many violations evolve from advertising, which is deemed worse than articles because of the potential for direct profit. Securing permission from the individual protects the public relations professional. While use of employee photos in employee publications isn’t specifically covered, it is a good idea to protect your employees’ right of privacy by obtaining signed waivers. Four torts or, i.e., kinds of wrongful acts or damages, to privacy exist:
- 1. Appropriation: Taking of some element of a person’s name or likeness for advertising or trade purposes without consent, such as using a celebrity’s photo without permission and signed releases.
- 2. Intrusion: Invading a person’s solitude, such as taping without permission.
- 3. Public disclosure of embarrassing private facts: Truth is not necessarily a defense here (medical information, sex-crime victim identity, name of juvenile offender, embarrassing poses). Reputation need not be harmed.
- 4. False light: Putting a person in a false position before the public, misleading the public to make a person appear other than he or she is (misrepresentation). Reputation need not be harmed.
This term is used for extensive word-for-word copying. One can use the idea, but not the creative expression of the idea. For a violation, copying must be exact, word for word. Paraphrasing is not a violation, but without attribution, it does raise ethical concerns. Speeches quoting the ideas of another can lead to copyright violation.