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January 2015 Copyright Update

Jan 29, 2015

This month, the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) ruled that the claimant’s copyright in photographs contained in its training manual were infringed, but that there was no infringement in relation to “text box notes” or “physical restraint techniques” (see here for the full judgment).

Copyright subsists in (amongst other things) original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works and this case illustrates that there can be numerous different copyright works in a single training manual, namely:

  • Photographs;
  • Written notes; and
  • Dramatic works.
     

It is a copyright infringement if (amongst other things) another makes a copy of the copyright works without the permission of the owner.  In this case, in respect to photographs, the defendant alleged that it had been given a “licence” by the claimant to copy those photographs.  This was rejected by His Honour Judge Hacon.

In this case, it seems the alleged infringement of the “text box notes”, which were included in the training manual, was not made out and was rejected.

More interesting, was the claimant’s claim of copyright in relation to its techniques and sequence of techniques, as dramatic work.  HHJ Hacon assumed in the claimant’s favour that copyright is capable of subsisting in both a physical restraint technique and a sequence of such techniques as a dramatic works, so as to be protected by copyright.

In this respect, the claimant claimed that the dramatic works in the techniques were demonstrated by reference to a combination of a photograph and the corresponding text box notes.  However, because HHJ Hacon had rejected (on the facts) that the claimant held any copyright in the claimed text box notes, the claimant was only able to define the dramatic works with reference to the illustrating photographs.

Unfortunately for the claimant, HHJ Hacon stated that “I have no doubt that one photograph of a dramatic work in progress does not constitute a record of that work such as to give rise to copyright in it as a dramatic work”.  Further, neither did a sequence or collection of photographs constitute a overall dramatic work.  As such, he rejected that copyright subsisted in the techniques as a dramatic works.  It remains unclear that, if copyright had subsisted in the text box notes, the combination of photograph and written instruction would have resulted in a dramatic work in this case.

This case should be a warning to directors and employees at SMEs since the director of the defendant was also held to be personally liable for those acts of infringement that the judge did find in the claimant’s favour since she was “a central figure in the creation of the [infringing manual], including the use of the [claimant’s] Photographs”.

If you have any questions about copyright law or are concerned about copyright infringement, please do not hesitate to contact our intellectual property lawyers on 020 7234 0200 for your free initial chat.