There are a number of ways to deal with copyright infringement which rights holders should be aware of. Seeking out the perpetrators, quoting Ezekiel 25-17 to them and gunning them down in a hail of bullets should not be on the list. But having a sensible enforcement strategy should be if intellectual property rights are valuable personal or business assets.
Copyright enforcement had its 15 minutes of fame recently when film director Quentin Tarantino found that a script for his new film project, ‘The Hateful Eight’, had appeared online.
Under UK copyright law, copyright is infringed when certain acts such as copying or issuing works to the public are done without permission, whether directly or indirectly and whether the whole or a substantial part of a work is used. Exceptions do exist but these are limited.
Intellectual Property Vigilance
In Tarantino’s case, it was a fairly simple process to discover that his copyrighted material had appeared without authorisation somewhere on the internet. Gawker, the hugely popular US –based online media and blog network, identified that the script had in fact gone online and posted a link on one of its blogs to the anonymous file sharing site where the script was being hosted.
Unfortunately for most intellectual property owners, discovering that their copyright or other intellectual property rights are being infringed is unlikely to be as easy as that. Difficulties aside, where copyright materials are a significant business asset, there should be a strategy for monitoring and enforcing those rights against infringing parties.
Although digitisation and the internet means that unlawful copying and dissemination of copyright material has become much easier, tools also exist to help vigilant companies monitor the internet for infringers.
Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights
If you discover that your intellectual property rights are being infringed it is important to take action to protect them from further infringement. The most suitable tactics may well depend upon the type of intellectual property being infringed, whether trademarks, patents or copyright.
With copyright infringement, the primary intention will usually be to prevent the infringement from continuing. Depending upon the circumstances, this could simply be a case of contacting the infringer and asking them to stop. If there are significant sums of money involved in the infringement, the copyright owner can potentially issue legal proceedings in order to:
· Get an injunction to prevent further use of the copyright material.
· Claim damages.
· Force the infringing party to hand over goods that contain copies.
Rights holders should seek legal advice before taking any action.
Although subject to US laws, the Tarantino case is interesting because he has claimed damages against Gawker which only provided a link to the offending file sharing site where the script was hosted. The outcome may not be instructive for English law but similar cases are likely to occur and will provide an interesting challenge for lawyers and courts in this country.