Copyright Infringement and Copyright Disputes

Copyright Infringement Disputes

Copyright disputes can arise in a variety of ways. For example, where there are existing contractual arrangements in place governing copyright and the contract is terminated, breached or is otherwise in dispute. Infringement disputes typically arise because:

  • Copyright holders have exclusive rights to copy and distribute the works they own. Where someone copies or distributes a copyright work without the authorisation of the copyright holder, they may be liable for copyright infringement.
  • The law grants exceptions to infringement in certain circumstances. These exceptions are very limited. Some only apply to personal use, rather than commercial use.
  • Infringement is sometimes deliberate, but often people unwittingly use material without understanding the copyright implications. Often they wrongly assume that material on the internet is in the public domain and can be used freely.

Copyright Ownership Disputes

  • When a work or product is created, copyright in it usually belongs to the person who creates it, and the law refers to that person as the ‘author’.
  • Where a work is created by two or more people, it can be complicated to work out who owns the copyright.
  • Subsequent events can trigger a change in ownership. Copyright infringement might arise if there have been many changes in ownership and it is difficult to work out who owns the copyright.

Note that where work is commissioned from another business or freelancer it is sensible to use a contract to determine who will own the copyright.

The legal rules that apply in default lead to some surprising consequences. Where a contract is not used disputes are much more likely to arise.

Resolving Copyright Disputes

It is often common practice to initiate a copyright infringement dispute using a cease and desist letter.

It is advisable to take legal advice before sending such a letter and on receiving this type of letter, as these letters can have implications for you and your business that are not immediately obvious.

Copyright infringement disputes are normally resolved using the type of Dispute Resolution procedures available for other commercial disputes and intellectual property disputes.

What next?

For further help call us on +44 (0) 20 7700 1414.