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Law on Copyright 
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THE LAW ON COPYRIGHT

Copyright in a written work has been protected in England since at least 1529.  The principal source of copyright law is now the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 as amended.

Infringement of copyright is a tort (civil wrong) for which redress is available to the copyright owner in the civil courts.  If the infringement is established, then the defendant may be ordered to pay damages and to deliver up infringing material as well as to be bound by an injunction against further infringement.  An employer may be liable for copying undertaken by members of its staff even if this is for their own personal use and even if they are expressly prohibited from doing so. 

Collective licensing schemes such as that operated by the NLA are recognised by the Act.  Anyone who is unreasonably refused a licence or who considers that the terms of licence available to him would be unreasonable may refer the licensor to the Copyright Tribunal, which has then to decide the issue between the applicant and the licensing body or even impose the terms that it considers would be reasonable.  The current NLA scheme has been the subject of reference to the Copyright Tribunal which has accepted the general scope of the scheme.

Organisations that never copy cuttings from newspapers other than as permitted by the Act are encouraged to sign a declaration to that effect.  There are two forms, one for professional partnerships and the other for companies and other organisations.

The NLA has brought civil actions for infringement of both typographical arrangement copyright and, most recently, literary copyright. 

The first was in the Clerkenwell County Court against Islington Borough Council.  Judgment was given for the NLA: see the NLA�s press release of 2 October 1998.

The second, against Marks and Spencer p.l.c. (�M&S�) went to the House of Lords, which held, on 12 July 2001, that M&S did not breach the NLA�s copyright in the typographical arrangement of newspaper cuttings.  That decision does not affect the NLA's entitlement to enforce literary copyright mandated to it.  The Court of Appeal�s decision in the case against M&S also makes it clear that copying of articles will not be excused by being considered to be fair dealing for the purpose of reporting news and current events. 


The litigation with M&S has now settled on terms that M&S have now taken a standard NLA licence to copy newspaper cuttings for its internal management and information purposes.

There have been a number of other instances in which, although it did not come to the issue of proceedings, payments have been paid to the NLA for unlicensed copying.  Payments have been made by, among others:-

Blackadder Reid Johnston Kvaerner ASA 
British United Provident Association Limited (BUPA)The Labour Party
Campion & Co The Liberal Democrats 
Commerzbank AGLinder Myers
Conservative Central Office Mansell plc
COSALT plcNorth Yorkshire Police 
Goodger Auden Pilkington plc
Greenwich HospitalRickerby Watterson 
ISCG (Information for School & College Governors) Sinclair Mason Limited
International Press-Cutting BureauWickham Laboratories Limited

This note does not purport to be a comprehensive statement of the law.  Further guidance may be obtained in literature published by the NLA.  Alternatively, licensees and prospective licensees should obtain advice from their own professional advisers.

Lawnotes 11.01  






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