Fergie time and Fair dealing

Fergies’ book was ghostwritten by Telegraph journalist Paul Hayward who tweeted yesterday “BBC website stealing chunks of the Ferguson book direct. Scandalous. Looks to me like a complete contravention of copyright.”

Some would said that Mr Hayward cannot have his cake and then eat it, as every news organisaton in the world has produced extracts from the book. However it does raise questions as to copyright law and in particular the expression ‘fair dealing’.Â

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (‘CDPA’) provides a number of defences to copyright infringement including:

• Fair dealing with a work for the purposes of criticism or review, of that or another work, provided that it is accompanied by sufficient acknowledgement and that the work has been made available to the public (section 30(1))

• Incidental inclusion of a work in an artistic work, sound recording, film or broadcast (section 31(1)).

I am not aware of any specific guidelines for the media/press pack as to what constitutes fair dealing but as a rule of thumb the use of the fair dealing defence ought to be interpreted liberally, in the interests of freedom of speech.

Any test applied would be objective and consideration must be given to the impact on Mr Hayward’s book. The BBC website was full of information about the book but at the same time Hayward has been given a huge amount of publicity which any author would die for.

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