If you have created copyright material, with a few exceptions you have a right to the copyright as soon as you have created it and do not need to apply for it.
Your copyright is infringed if anyone uses your material without your permission. What compensation you are entitled to will depend on what commercial loss you have suffered as a result.
If you have suffered an infringement of copyright, it is usually best to try and settle this outside of court if possible. If you do have to go to court, attempts to negotiate a settlement are likely to help your case.
It is important to get legal advice if you need to issue court proceedings, particularly with gathering the evidence necessary to show that you own the copyright and what your commercial losses have been, which can be a difficult task.
Legal remedies for breach of copyright
There are a number of options available to you if you have experienced breach of copyright:
- Injunction – this requires the copyright infringer to stop making further use of your material;
- Damages – the court can award you compensation for the infringement, based on your losses; and/or
- Delivery of infringing items – the copyright infringer can be ordered to deliver these to you.
The court has the power to make additional remedies, such as increased damages, if the copyright infringement is intentional.
Avoiding copyright infringement
It is important to avoid ‘borrowing’ material you come across for your own purposes, as it is likely to be someone’s copyright – you should always get permission from the copyright owner before using it.
Material published on the internet can be particularly liable to infringement, and is not free to use as some may assume.
If you are given ‘permission’ to use copyright material by someone who does not have permission to do so, this is not a defence for you but you may be able to take action against that person.
The Government made changes to copyright law in 2014 which permit certain exclusions to copyright for certain uses such as education and archives – guidance is available on the IPO website.
For more information about breach of copyright, contact us or call 0800 024 1976.