How can I protect my work from copyright infringement?

Nov 18, 2020 | News & Insights

Megan Claire’s lockdown rework of the ’12 days of Christmas’ turning “11 pipers piping” into “11 plastic visors” gained the attention it deserved but not the acknowledgement, or financial reward. “The card went viral online however we were unfortunately given no credit for it when it was shared initially on Twitter, which was then featured on Buzzfeed. We have seen creative takes on our card playing on TikTok with 104.5K likes, 30.4K shares and not a single credit to us.” said Megan Purdiefounder and owner of Megan Claire.

Creating original designs and written copy automatically achieves copyright protection under UK law, however plagiarism is an ongoing issue for design innovators. The GCA works with lots of specialists who are able to help in this area, many offer free initial advice to GCA members.

Protecting your brilliant ideas and designs

GCA specialist legal expert, Will Miles from Briffa confirms that “copyright subsists in the text you have created (as a “literary work”). If you’re the author and the work is original, then you’re the copyright owner and you became the owner as soon as you put pen to paper. Originality is not normally found in short phrases or sentences but if the literary work is longer than this, copyright should subsist.”

“Copyright can be infringed by someone if they copy the whole or a substantial part of an original work. This means that someone can change a few words here and there and still infringe the work. Publication is an infringing act and so if someone has taken your copy and published it elsewhere then they’re infringing. In terms of remedies, you have the right to stop third parties from infringing and you can claim damages in the form of a license fee”.

Will also cautions to be careful about alleging copyright infringement before taking advice “Strictly speaking only a court can decide if something is or isn’t a copyright infringement and the last thing you want to do is give that third party grounds to make a claim against you.”

GCA Members can access a number of articles on Copyright and Licensing in the GCA Member’s Library. As Will says imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way when someone else is profiting from your creative work!”

Note: there are changes to the Intellectual  Property rules from January 2021, see Briffa’s guidance on this in the Members’ Library.

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