Art Brushes

Copyright Infringement in the UK

If someone is copying your own original and creative work as their own or it is being used in a way you have not consented to, you have legal options. Under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988), the copyright owner has the exclusive rights to carry out a number of various acts such as copying, distributing, performing or adapting a piece of work. The copyright owner is also given protection against copying or reproduction of their intellectual property by someone else. 

What is a copyright owner? 

The copyright owner is the person or company that owns the Exclusive Rights of copyright in a piece of work. Copyright ownership is different than the ownership of the work. However, the author or creator of the work is typically the first owner of any copyright. 

However, if the work was undertaken by an employee during their course of employment, the copyright is usually owned by the employer.  

Types of Work Protected by Copyright Law 

The CDPA 1988 groups different types of work protected by copyright into: 

– original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works 

– sound recordings, films and broadcasts 

– the typographical arrangement of published editions 

These groupings are also quite broad. For instance, literary work may include things such as computer software, website content, books or articles. In the same way, artistic works may include drawings or sculptures.  

Types of Copyright Infringement 

There are two forms of copyright infringement. These include: 

-Primary Infringement – where certain actions are carried out without the permission or licence of the copyright owner. This may include copying it, adapting it or communicating it to the public.   

-Secondary Infringement – where a third party facilitates the infringement. This is typically either by enabling the production of infringed works, possessing it in a course of business, selling, hiring or distributing it.

Examples of Copyright Infringement:   

Famous examples of copyright infringement include the Whitmill v. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. case. Victor Whitmill, the tattoo artist who designed Mike Tison’s famous tribal face tattoo, accused Warner Brothers Entertainment of copyright infringement after it was duplicated within the film The Hangover Part II and its posters. In June 2011, a settlement agreement was determined with undisclosed terms.  

Another significant case is A&M Records vs. Napster. Napster, a well-known file sharing network was accused by a group of members of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for copyright infringement of music owned by major music labels. The RIAA claimed that it had cost the music industry hundreds of millions in lost sales.  Napster ultimately settled the case, paying damages of $26 million. 

Remedies for Copyright Infringement 

Common steps that can be taken in copyright cases include an order preventing the continuation of infringement, fines, and monetary damages which can be paid to you as the copyright holder, with interest. Alternatively, you can seek the profits others have made from the infringement of your work. In some instances, you can also seek criminal charges. Depending on your specific situation there may be other actions that can be taken to remedy copyright infringement therefore it is important to seek legal advice and find the best options for your case. 

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