- Copyright in characters (Shazam v Only Fools The Dining Experience)
- What are the practical implications of this case?
- What was the background?
- What did the court decide?
- Case details
TMT analysis: The High Court found that a character may be a protectable literary work under UK copyright law and addressed the little-used defences to copyright infringement of fair dealing for the purpose or parody or pastiche. The ruling concerned the character of Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter from the well-loved TV show Only Fools and Horses (OFAH). The defendants, who created the unofficial ‘Only Fools the Dining Experience’, was found to have infringed the copyright subsisting in the OFAH scripts and the character Del Boy. The judgment is only the second case to have applied both the UK and EU copyright tests for subsistence of copyright to a work which does not naturally fit within one of the UK’s closed lists of ‘works’ under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988). It has potential to lead to more claims of copyright infringement in respect of well-known characters which have been used without consent across a wide range of different media. Written by Simon Clark, partner and Maria Ryan, trainee solicitor at Bristows LLP.
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