Copyright infringement

 

Copyright is not a monopoly right, meaning it does not allow you to prevent someone from using it like a patented invention. It only allows you to stop someone else from copying your original work. Infringement of copyright law occurs when there is unauthorised use of another person’s work which is protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

What is copyright protection?

To qualify for copyright protection under the Act a work must be a:

  • Literary work
  • Dramatic work
  • Musical
  • Artistic work

Films, sound recordings, broadcasts and typographical arrangements for publish editions are also protected. In order for there to be infringement of copyright law a copyright must exist and must have not expired.

A copyright will generally last the author’s lifetime and 70 years after the author’s death, however this does vary depending on the type of work. An infringing act such as copying, issuing copies, making an adaptation or performing the original work to the public must also occur.

A casual connection between the original work and the copied work must be established to prove that it is not similar work independently created. For example, the potential copier could have created their version at a time when he or she had no access to the original work.

In addition, a substantial part of the original work must be copied in order for there to be an infringement.

What is copyright infringement?

Copyright infringement is the unauthorised use of material that is covered by copyright law, violating one or more of the copyright owner's exclusive rights. The most common types of copyright infringement are:

  • Copying
  • Making an adaptation
  • Giving a public performance

An example of copyright infringement is the unlawful downloading of copyright material and sharing of recorded music over the internet.

In order for infringement to be established, the copier must have had the opportunity to copy the work. If access is not established, there is no copying, even if there is a striking similarity between the two works.

There are two types of infringement:

  • Primary infringement, which is done by the actual author
  • Secondary infringement where the author is only liable if they knew or had reason to believe they are dealing with an infringing copy

If your claim for infringement under copyright law is successful the remedies ordered by the court can include:

  • An injunction
  • Damages
  • Handing over all profits
  • Delivery and/or destruction of the copied goods

Are there defences to copyright infringement?

There are defences to copyright infringement, for example if it can be shown that there was no copying, but rather the work is an independent creation. It is possible for an author to create a work independently which bears similarities to another piece of work.

Another defence is that the new item does not deserve protection, and therefore the right in question does not deserve protection.

There are also other uses of copyright which do not require the permission of the owner. These can include:

  • For the purpose of research or private study
  • For the purpose of criticism and review
  • For the purpose of reporting and current events

However, it is often difficult to establish whether these defences are available and legal advice should be sought before considering any use of someone else's copyright. Legal advice should also be sought if an action for copyright infringement has been brought against you as the punishments can be severe, ranging from damages for loss of sales, to seizure of the offending items, and even a criminal record.

For more information, see our guidance page on copyright law.

Do you believe your copyright protection is being infringed? Contact Law works with intellectual property lawyers who are experts in copyright law and can help you resolve the matter as quickly as possible, whether you wish to deal with the issue inside or outside of court. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

Call
0800 1777 162
or fill in the form
Our trained advisor contacts you
Your chosen specialist solicitor calls you
Quick enquiry form
Area of law:
Name:
Town/City:
Email:
Phone:
What our clients say about us
"Your contact and service was immediate and utmost professional, 10/10."
TF, conveyancing, Dudley, Jun 15
"I appreciate the service that you provide. I found you to be courteous, efficient and reassuring at a time when my confidence in justice is completely negative."
Patrick, litigation, Pontypridd, Jun 15
"I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the speed of which you came back to me in. If anyone else can benefit from your help like I have done, it would make my day."
Gail M, family law, Potters Bar, Jun 15
"Your assistance was extremely helpful. Particularly to someone who in 40 years of business has never experienced this sort of issue."
TD, commercial litigation, Galashiels, Apr 15
"It is difficult to express the value Contact Law has to someone like me who had very little understanding of the law and how to proceed forward with my case. Thank you for the service you provided."
AE, defamation law, Worthing, Apr 15
"Thank you for the efficient service I received. I was contacted by your solicitor on the same day as my request. Your quick response to my situation made me feel secure."
AN, employment law, London, Apr 15
"Your service was excellent, very fast and informative. I never got the impression of being pressurised at all. The solicitor you recommended was also excellent – very knowledgeable and supportive."
JHD, Motoring law, Liverpool, Apr 15
"We will be changing our solicitor to the one you recommended. Your service is brilliant, I am only sorry we did not use you previously. Thank you again!"
KB, property law, Mar 15
"We used the solicitor as recommended, the service we have received has been both prompt and efficient. We would have no hesitation in using your organisation in the future."
BS, employment law, Mar 15
"Oustanding service! So friendly and helpful from the offset, and you went out of your way to make sure everything ran smoothly and that I was happy."
KB, employment law, London, Feb 15

We use cookies on the Contact Law site to help us improve it.

If you would like to allow our cookies, please click 'Continue' or carry on browsing. For more information on cookies and how to change your settings, click 'More info'.