Are Press Releases Copyrighted?

Press releases and whether they are actually copyrighted have become a recent topic of discussion. This is an interesting question, as journalists derive information from press releases to create content and meet strict deadlines.


The concern over plagiarism and search engine optimization (SEO) is whether a press release is copyrighted and what constitutes fair use.

Is a press release copyrighted?

The short answer is yes. A person writes a press release on behalf of a company.

Given this, copyright does not cover facts, figures, or statistics. Cite the information’s original source when writing an article about a press release.

The work of the modern journalist

Certain news outlets have recently fired staff for using press releases without any significant alterations or citations. Therefore, the feeling here is that it is not just plagiarism but a breach of contract.

Plagiarism is the theft of a written work with the intention to deceive others by trying to pass it off as their own. This is a crime and can result in litigation.

In terms of breach of contract, a journalist lifting an entire press release without any changes is seen as not fulfilling their professional obligation. The work is not a piece of original content; it is the work of a corporate marketer.

Obviously, theft is an issue, but there are other issues to consider due to the nature of the internet and search engine practices.

Duplicate content

To demonstrate, an online periodical needs readers, and they may run ads on their site or charge a subscription. Whether the website runs pay-per-view (PPV) ads or pay-per-click (PPC) ads, generating traffic is the main goal.

However, Google has recently imposed a duplicate content penalty. The first page of a search engine’s results ranks content based on a variety of factors. The lower a website’s ranking, the less likely it is to receive traffic.

If every journalist were to copy a press release word-for-word, only one would be a winner. The rest would miss out on subscribers and ad revenue. Creating original content and citing the press release would help increase traffic and improve search result rankings.

No matter how perfect a press release is, journalists should quote, cite, and re-write.

To learn more about our press release distribution services, contact us today!


Anthony Santiago is Director of Marketing at Newswire. With over a decade of experience in PR, he helps ensure that clients understand the value of brand messaging and reach.

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