A brief overview on Copyright
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22 August 2013
- What is copyrighted?
- How do you copyright?
- Who owns a Copyright?
- How long is a copyright valid for?
- What rights are protected under copyright?
- What are the remedies available to an author for
What exactly is copyrighted?
There is a common misconception that under the CDPA a song is
copyrighted completely as a single package. In all actuality, different
parts of a song each have their own individual copyright. For example:
The lyrics of a song are protected as a literary work.
is defined by section 3(1) as any work, other than a dramatic or
musical work which is written, spoken or sung.
The accompanying music to the lyrics is protected under its
heading of copyright. The actual recording of the song is protected
under the heading of “sound recording”. Sound recording is defined as a
recording of Sounds, from which sounds may be reproduced; or all or
part of a literary, dramatic, or musical work, from which sounds
reproducing that work or part may be produced.
Section 5A(1) specifically excludes copyright from subsisting
sound recordings which are a copy of a previous sound recording. It
should be mentioned, if a song is part of a soundtrack to a film for
the purpose of copyright it will be considered part of the film, and
thus will be protected under Section 5B(2).
How do you copyright?
Copyright is an automatic right. In order for a song to
copyright protection, the author of the music must match the
description of a qualifying person under the CDPA. A qualifying person
is described under the CDPA as:
A person of British nationality i.e. a person who is domiciled
resident in the UK (or another country to which the CDPA extends); or a
company who is incorporated in the UK (or another country to which the
Copyright will also be granted regardless of if the person is
qualifying if the work was first published in the UK or a country to
which the CDPA extends.
Who owns a copyright?
Under the CDPA, the owner of a copyright will generally be the
Section 9(1) defines an author simply as a person who creates
work. This includes (but by no means is limited to): The producer of a
sound recording, which is defined in section 178 of the Act as the
person who made the arrangements necessary for making the sound
recording; and the producer and principal director of a film, the
producer is defined under section 178 as the person who made the
arrangements necessary for making the film.
If there are two or more authors, normally a joint authorship
exist. A joint author has the same rights under copyright law as a sole
author. However, a joint author may be liable to one of his other
co-authors if he does an act restricted by copyright without their
permission. It should be mentioned, that a joint authorship however,
only applies if the contribution of the authors is not distinct. This
is determined on the facts. If the works are found to be distinct, the
work will be considered as two (or more) separate works.
How long is a copyright valid for?
The length of the validity of copyright differs depending on
type of copyright. Literary and musical copyright exists 70 years after
the calendar year in which the last known author dies. If the author is
unknown, the length of the validity of copyright is valid for up to 70
years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was made and
made available to the public. In regards to sound recordings, a
copyright is valid for a period of 50 years from the end of the
calendar year in which the recording is made, published or communicated
in public. As mentioned above, a sound track is considered to be part
of a film. The copyright of a film exists until the death of the last
known specified person. If the author or specified person is unknown,
the copyright exists until 70 years from the end of the calendar year
in which the film was: made; or made available to the public.
What rights are protected under copyright?
Copyright restricts those who are not the author, or those who
not acquired the proper permission, from doing certain acts. By doing
these acts, or authorising another to do these acts, a person will have
infringed copyright. There are two types of copyright infringement,
primary infringement and secondary infringement. if a person
one of the following, without permission, they will have committed
- Copying a copyright work.
- Issuing copies of the copyright work to the public.
- Renting or lending the work to the public.
- Performing, showing or playing a copyright work in public.
- Communicating the work to the public.
- Making an adaptation of a copyright work or doing any of
the acts listed above in relation to an adaptation.
Primary infringement is a strict liability offence, whilst
infringement requires the defendant to have specified knowledge, or
reasonable grounds for having such knowledge at the time of the
When considering copyright infringement, it should be minded
is not necessary for a restricted act to be committed in respect of the
entire song. All that is required is that a restricted act is committed
in respect of the whole or substantial part of the work. What
constitutes the whole or substantive part of the work will differ
depending on the facts.
The test for determining whether a person has committed
infringement is very rigid. However, there are a number of exceptions.
One of the most notable (albeit limited) exception is playing music in
a public place where the audience has not paid for admission.
What are the remedies available to an author for
Infringing copyright will result in the same methods of relief
breach of other intellectual property rights. This means that the
majority of cases for copyright infringement result in either financial
damages awarded from the infringer to the author, and/or an injunction
granted to stop the infringer from continuing his actions any further.
Written by Harmeet Anand Work
About the Author
Solicitors offer services and advice for litigation,
commercial contracts, Intellectual Property and IT legal agreements. We
are experts in commercial law with a heavy emphasis on Intellectual
Property, Internet and e-commerce law. Lawdit is a member of the
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2013-09-04 09:09:16 in Legal Articles