Our team of copyright infringement solicitors can advise both businesses and individuals on all aspects of copyright, from outlining what can be protected by copyright through to copyright infringements and disputes.
We can work with you to protect your work in the digital space and offline. We have helped businesses enforce copyright and sell and license copyright.
If you have any doubts, it is always advisable to seek the expertise of copyright lawyers to ensure you and your businesses are protected.
Remedies for infringement of copyright
It is always advisable to keep records of the creation process so that you can prove that the work being infringed is indeed your own. If your work is copied or reproduced without your permission, whether in writing, in performance or on display, you are entitled to ask the individual or organisation to stop. Depending on the severity of the infringement and the impact on you, you can seek compensation and / or seek an injunction which effectively prevents any further abuse of your copyright. You do not always have to go to court to resolve the issue as it may be possible to reach a settlement with the infringing party. However, it is always wise to seek legal advice from copyright infringement solicitors before embarking on a claim to save time and money in the long run.
How we have helped our clients
We have dealt with a number of copyright and copyright infringement matters for our clients, in particular:
- Obtaining compensation from a nightclub which had used a professional photographer’s photograph of a celebrity without his permission;
- Obtaining compensation for a songwriter whose song had been copied by a high profile musical group;
- Advising a client on what permission was necessary before she could use an Edwardian polar explorer’s memoirs;
- Stopping a competitor from using a copy of our client’s website;
- Securing payment of royalties for a record company client; and
- Stopping a competitor using a copy of our client’s training materials.
Copyright is an automatic protection
As soon as a piece of original, creative work sees the light of day, it automatically attracts copyright protection. This occurs once it takes on a physical form rather than remaining as an idea in the mind of its creator. This means that writers, musicians, artists, broadcasters and filmmakers, among others, are protected from other people either copying or reproducing their work without their permission.
What does copyright protection cover?
Copyright provides automatic and long-lasting protection for a very wide range of materials, including:
- Writing of books, plays, poetry and other literary work;
- Music composition;
- Drawing, illustration, painting, photography and other artistic work, including works of artistic craftsmanship;
- Digital content including computer software code, software design, website content and databases;
- Sound and music recordings
- Film and television recordings and animations
- The typography of published editions of written, dramatic and musical works
Copyright prevents others from:
- copying or distributing your work
- renting or lending copies of your work
- performing, showing or playing your work in public
- adapting your work
- putting it on the internet
without the consent or permission of the copyright owner.
How long does copyright last?
It does depend on the type of work. The general rules are:
- Books, plays, poetry and other written work; music composition; drawing, illustration, painting, photographs copyright law and other artistic work: the lifetime of the author plus 70 years
- Sound and music recordings: 70 years from first publication
- Film and television recordings; and broadcasts: 70 years from the death of the director, screenplay author and composer
- Broadcasts: 50 years from first broadcast
- Typographical layout: 25 years from first publication
Who owns the copyright?
In the majority of cases, it is the originator of the work who owns the copyright, that is to say the author or creator. If the creator or author creates the work as part of his/her employment, then the copyright will, in the first instance, belong to their employer.
However, in some cases where a work has been commissioned, ownership of the copyright will depend on the terms of the contract governing the relationship. If the contract governing that relationship is silent on the subject of copyright ownership, the copyright will remain in the hands of the author – and not the person who gave the commission. More than one person can own the copyright to a piece of work jointly if it can be proved that their contributions were equal.
What copyright does not protect
An idea for an artistic work cannot be protected; it has to be created in an original, tangible form before copyright is conferred. Although it seems obvious to state, work that has been copied either wholly or partially cannot attract copyright - originality is key.
Moral rights belong to the creator or author (living on or after 1 August 1989) of an original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work and allow them to retain control over how their work is used or displayed, for example, where work has been privately commissioned. Moral rights can be given up but cannot be sold to a third party and they pass to the author’s estate on his or her death.
Recognising who owns the copyright for a piece of artistic work should not be difficult to ascertain. However, policing the use of that work is not always as easy and pursuing remedies for infringement can be time consuming and expensive.
We are always happy to discuss any element of copyright infringement law to help you protect your work.