Copyright infringement: how to ensure you do not fall foul of the rules - Palmers Solicitors

Copyright infringement: how to ensure you do not fall foul of the rules

Copyright infringement: how to ensure you do not fall foul of the rules

When you are running a business, the last thing you need is a costly legal action that will drain your money, time and resources.

Every business wishes to avoid this, which is why it is crucial that businesses get to grips with copyright law.

No business wants to fall foul of copyright laws, however inadvertent the infringement might be.

Here we explain how copyright an be breached and how you can ensure you can ensure you stay on the right side of the law and also protect your own business interests:

What is copyright?

In the UK, the principal legislation for protecting intellectual property rights is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Copyright is an automatic intellectual property right, with the copyright owner having the moral and economic rights to their work.

Moral rights underpin the creator’s right to be identified as the person behind the work. This is different however from economic rights, which govern the right to distribute or copy the work.

Ways businesses could infringe copyright

There are many everyday ways that businesses could unwittingly infringe copyright, which is why it is important to understand how copyright infringement works in the real world.

For example, a business publishes its own magazine but includes photos taken by a photographer without their permission.

This would infringe the photographer’s copyright. Similarly, a business could put music on its website or social media content without the necessary licences for permission from its creator.

Even if the intentions were harmless, it is still an infringement and can have consequences.

What is fair dealing?

There is a defence for potential copyright infringement, known as fair dealing. This covers the following uses of copyright material:

  • For non-commercial research/private study
  • Text and data mining for non-commercial research
  • Reporting current events
  • Criticism or review

It should be noted that there is no statutory definition of fair dealing, it will depend on each case.

How can copyright infringement impact your business?

If your business infringes copyright, it runs the risk of legal action by the copyright owners.

The financial costs could be heavy as infringement is a civil offence, so damages are awarded based on the case at the discretion of the court.

It could also have significant reputational damage to your business as any legal action could lead to negative publicity and discourage potential investors from supporting your business in the future. One seemingly small infringement could have long-lasting financial ramifications.

Are you concerned about protecting your intellectual property rights? Contact our intellectual property team today for expert advice.