Q&As

Can I get round someone else's copyright by changing the work?

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Published on LexisPSL on 04/12/2013

The following IP Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Can I get round someone else's copyright by changing the work?
  • What do you mean by 'changing the work'?
  • Understand what copyright is
  • What you cannot do
  • Exceptions may apply
  • A case on point
  • Other legal issues to consider
  • Key case

What do you mean by 'changing the work'?

To clarify what kind of changes we envisage being made to the copyright work, these considerations do not cover technical measures that may change works such as downloading music files using the BitTorrent protocol. These responses are given in relation to modification made, for example, to an image or a literary work.

Understand what copyright is

This is the most significant consideration when dealing with allegations of copying and infringing original works. Copyright recognises the skill and labour or intellectual effort expended by an author in creating a work. It is not a registered right, it arises automatically when a work, such as an image, is recorded, subject to some fairly minimal requirements as to the mental effort used to create it. Where copyright subsists in a work the owner is permitted to carry out various acts, such as being able to copy the work, and more importantly can stop you from copying it. See Practice Note: Copyright—subsistence and qualification.

What you cannot do

Assuming a work is protected by copyright

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