Copyright in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • C.B.S. Songs Ltd v Amstrad Consumer Electronics Plc
    • House of Lords
    • 12 May 1988

    My Lords, I accept that a defendant who procures a breach of copyright is liable jointly and severally with the infringer for the damages suffered by the plaintiff as a result of the infringement. The defendant is a joint infringer; he intends and procures and shares a common design that infringement shall take place. A defendant may procure an infringement by inducement, incitement or persuasion.

  • Ladbroke (Football) Ltd v William Hill (Football) Ltd
    • House of Lords
    • 21 Jan 1964

    And if he does copy, the question whether he has copied a substantial part depends much more on the quality than on the quantity of what he has taken. But, in my view, that is only a short cut, and the more correct approach is first to determine whether the plaintiff's work as a whole is "original" and protected by copyright, and then to enquire whether the part taken by the defendant is substantial.

    The reproduction of a part which by itself has no originality will not normally be a substantial part of the copyright and therefore will not be protected. For that which would not attract copyright except by reason of its collocation will, when robbed of that collocation, not be a substantial part of the copyright and therefore the courts will not hold its reproduction to be an infringement.

  • Newspaper Licensing Agency v Marks & Spencer Plc
    • House of Lords
    • 12 Jul 2001

    The House of Lords decided in Ladbroke (Football) Ltd v William Hill (Football) Ltd [1964] 1 WLR 273 that the question of substantiality is a matter of quality rather than quantity. That question, as it seems to me, must be answered by reference to the reason why the work is given copyright protection. It follows that the quality relevant for the purposes of substantiality is the literary originality of that which has been copied.

  • Designer Guild Ltd v Russell Williams (Textiles) Ltd (trading as Washington DC)
    • House of Lords
    • 23 Nov 2000

    Or to take another example, the original elements in the plot of a play or novel may be a substantial part, so that copyright may be infringed by a work which does not reproduce a single sentence of the original. If one asks what is being protected in such a case, it is difficult to give any answer except that it is an idea expressed in the copyright work.

    It is on this ground that, for example, a literary work which describes a system or invention does not entitle the author to claim protection for his system or invention as such. The other proposition is that certain ideas expressed by a copyright work may not be protected because, although they are ideas of a literary, dramatic or artistic nature, they are not original, or so commonplace as not to form a substantial part of the work.

    The purpose of the examination is not to see whether the overall appearance of the two designs is similar, but to judge whether the particular similarities relied on are sufficiently close, numerous or extensive to be more likely to be the result of copying than of coincidence. It is at this stage that similarities may be disregarded because they are commonplace, unoriginal, or consist of general ideas.

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Legislation
Books & Journal Articles
  • Copyright cultures
    • Nbr. 25-3, September 2007
    • Library Hi Tech
    Purpose: This column aims to look at the different economic and intellectual approaches to copyright as separate cultures whose assumptions and approaches make it difficult for them to share a sing...
  • Copyright in the networked world: copyright police
    • Nbr. 24-1, January 2006
    • Library Hi Tech
    Purpose: The purpose of this column is to look at how copyright enforcement is handled. Design/methodology/approach: Legal issues in enforcement are examined, as well as the initiatives of organiz...
  • Copyright in the networked world: gray copyright
    • Nbr. 26-2, June 2008
    • Library Hi Tech
    Purpose: This paper uses an inductive approach to define “gray copyright.” It is needed to describe those situations in which the practical degree of copyright protection can best be measured in sh...
  • Computers and Copyright
    • Nbr. 50-2, March 1987
    • The Modern Law Review
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Law Firm Commentaries
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