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Copyright Law: The Rights of the Copyright Owner and How They Might be Infringed

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

In the age of the internet and the digitization of all forms of media from music to books, copyright is an increasingly complex topic. Despite this there is still a great deal to be gained from understanding the basics. Copyright gives the creator of an original piece of work exclusive rights for a limited period of time. However, owners are often unaware of what rights copyright ownership actually confers on them. Having created a piece of work that is able to be protected by copyright law, it is essential that owners are made aware of those rights and their ability to enforce them.

The following rights belong exclusively to the copyright owner, meaning that only the holder is free to exercise those rights:

  1. The right to copy or reproduce the work;
  2. The right to issue or distribute copies of the work;
  3. The right to perform, show or play the work in public;
  4. The right to communicate the work to the public;
  5. The right to rent or lend the work to the public; and
  6. The right to adapt the work or to do any of the above in relation to the adaptation.

For persons other that the copyright owner these are restricted acts; such persons are prohibited from doing any of them without the permission of the copyright holder.

A person who does any of the acts set out above, or allows anyone else to do them without the licence or permission of the copyright owner infringes the exclusive rights of the copyright owner. A copyright infringement can occur in relation to the whole work or a substantial part of it and may be done either directly or indirectly. Where copyright has been infringed, the owner does not even have to show loss or damage to make a claim.

There are limited defences to copyright infringement. The knowledge or intention of the infringing party is not relevant to infringement – ignorance or innocence is not a defence. It can reduce or limit damages if the infringing party can prove he or she did not know and had reason to believe no copyright existed at the time of the infringement.

Rollingsons has lawyers experienced in copyright law; if you need advice or would like more information please contact James Crighton via e-mail or by phone on 0207 611 4848.