How is Copyright Infringed?

Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988

Section 16 gives a copyright owner the exclusive right to deal with their work. If anyone other than the copyright owner uses thework without the owner’s permission, then infringement will have taken place. So if someone decides they want to sell t-shirts for children with pictures of Teletubbies on them, they will need permission from the copyright owner, if they go ahead and decide to print without permission they will be liable for infringement.

Quality not Quantity

Copyright is infringed if a “substantial part” is taken. The question of a substantial part is considered qualitatively, meaning the whole of the work need not be copied for infringement to occur. The test is one of quality not quantity.

A case based on the Starsky and Hutch movie effectively illustrates this point. A party to the case had decided they would print posters and sell them. The problem was the idea for the posters was taken from a still frame from the above movie, (literally a millisecond of the movie was copied). Regardless of the quantity copied from the movie, the person attempting to sell the posters was found guilty of copyright infringement as it was held that the still frame from the movie amounted to a “substantial part”.

Types of Copyright Infringement

There are two types:

– Primary infringement, a person is liable regardless of their state of mind

– Secondary infringement, a person is only liable if they were aware they were dealing with an infringing copy

Section 17 of the CDPA 1988 shows that copying means reproducing the work in any material form this also includes adaptations, examples include:

– Turning a two-dimensional image into a three- dimensional solid object

– Translating a film into another language.

– Making a film based on a book

– Selling posters based on a film as above

– Storing work in any medium via electronic means

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