Q&As

In section 17 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, it says ‘Copying in relation to a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work means reproducing the work in any material form’. By ‘material’, does it mean substantial or tangible/physical/actual?

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Produced in partnership with Joshua Marshall of Fieldfisher
Published on LexisPSL on 18/03/2020

The following IP Q&A produced in partnership with Joshua Marshall of Fieldfisher provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • In section 17 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, it says ‘Copying in relation to a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work means reproducing the work in any material form’. By ‘material’, does it mean substantial or tangible/physical/actual?

There are two key points to have in mind in relation to this question. First, the exclusive right to copy the work is the most fundamental right of a copyright proprietor. Second, literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works are authorial works whereas sound recordings, films, broadcasts and published editions are entrepreneurial works. The distinction is that the rights in authorial works are broader and are infringed by copying the content of the work, whereas entrepreneurial works are narrower and infringed by copying the signal/medium. This distinction reflects the nature of the work itself and the fact that the works embody different things.

The words ‘any material form’ in section 17(2) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988) are intended to capture the reproduction of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work in any medium. It is not necessary to place any specific importance on the

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