What are the repercussions of breach of copyright?

What are the repercussions of breach of copyright?

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When does copyright arise?

To be protected by copyright, the work must be ‘original’, in the sense that the author can prove that they used their skill, judgement and creativity to produce it.

In addition, the work must have a physical presence. Only the expression of an idea – on paper, for example – is protected by copyright, not the idea itself.

What does copyright protect?

The Copyright Designs and Patents Act (CDPA) 1988 creates different categories of original work in which copyright can exist. The main classes of protected work are:

literary and written work

dramatic, musical and artistic work

television, film, sound and music recordings

computer software

photography and illustration

What rights does a copyright owner have?

A copyright owner has ‘moral’ and economic rights. Moral rights include the right to be identified as the author. These are separate from economic rights, which include the right to copy, distribute, broadcast and adapt the work. Any person who performs any of these acts in relation to the work, without the consent of the copyright owner, potentially infringes copyright.

Infringement occurs when a substantial amount of the work has been copied, the person who copied the work has no permission, or defence, for doing so and the copyright has not expired.

How long does copyright last?

Copyright lasts for the rest of the author’s life, plus 70 years.

What are the defences to copyright infringement?

Defences to copyright infringement include consent, fair dealing and public interest. Copyright is neither infringed when the owner agrees to the copying of the work nor when there is fair use of it for critique or review purposes. Whilst the public interest defence is not contained in the CDPA, the courts have held that they will not stop copyright infringement when the public interest in publication outweighs the private right of property.

What are the remedies for copyright infringement?

Assuming no viable defences apply, there are a number of civil remedies available for copyright infringement. These include damages (or compensation) for loss; an injunction (or court order) preventing further copying, display or broadcast of the work; an account of profit (a court order to hand over all profits); and an order for delivery up (a court order to hand over all copies).

In response to concerns over copyright piracy, the civil courts are also prepared, in very serious breaches, to grant copyright owners what are effectively private search warrants: for example, to track down sources for bootleg operations.

Certain acts, if conducted without the copyright owner’s consent, may be considered criminal offences, resulting in a fine, imprisonment, confiscation or all three. These punishments are designed to deter copying on an industrial scale for commercial benefit.

A person is guilty of an offence if, at the time of the infringement, they knew or had reason to believe their act would cause an infringement.

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