“Is a stolen copyright a copy-wrong?” (Anonymous)
The high profile “Moneyweb v Fin 24” High Court judgment is significant for all online publishers. In a nutshell, Fin 24 was ordered to pay damages to Moneyweb for copyright infringement in respect of one article, but the Court found against Moneyweb in regard to six other articles and ordered it to pay 70% of Fin 24’s legal costs.
Both sides in the litigation have claimed victory but the important message for us all is this – original creative works are protected by copyright even when posted online.
Strong protections – a summary
Let’s start with our Copyright Act, which since 1978 has been protecting the creators of original works – literary, musical, artistic, photographic, and more recently computer programming, website creation and the like – from plagiarists. The idea of course is to encourage creativity, but without upsetting the balance between a creator’s rights and the public interest.
Copyright protection kicks in automatically as soon as you create an original work. No paperwork or registration is required, and you are covered internationally in all Berne Convention countries ( Map Here ). To be protected you don’t have to mark your works with the copyright “©” sign, but it’s good practice to do so, together with your name and the year of creation.
And if your copyright is infringed you can both claim damages from the copycat and put a stop to the infringement.
In cyberspace: What’s fair game? And is it enough to acknowledge source?
What has not been clear until now is the extent to which these protections apply to re-publishing online. The common misperception that anything on the Internet is fair game for wholesale re-publication without permission is of course totally incorrect, and now we have from our courts some solid guidelines which both the creators of online creative works, and those re-publishing them, need to pay heed to.
In outline (this is inevitably just a summary of some very complex legal issues, so seek advice on your specific case from our Information Technology & Intellectual Property department.) –
For more guidance on cyberspace copyright contact our Information Technology & Intellectual Property department.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)