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Question 2

Now we have established that you have created a copyright work with your card, who owns the copyright in it?

All of us:  Because one of us wrote everything down, but we all contributed ideas.

Incorrect answer: Copyright has traditionally been regarded as protecting the form in which ideas are expressed rather than the ideas themselves. The ideas contained in a document are not themselves a copyright work, so that if the ideas are taken and put to a commercial use the owner of the copyright in the document cannot argue that he has suffered loss of business by reason of copyright infringement. If you want to know more please read: Does copyright help me to protect my ideas?

Author:  Because the person who ‘put pen to paper’ or created the work is the author.

Correct answer: s.9(1) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act provides that an ‘author’ means a person who creates it. The person who created the card (fixed the work in a material form) would be the author. There are, however, three exceptional cases in which the author of a work is not the first owner of the copyright in it:

  1. Where the work is a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or a film, and is made by an employee in the course of employment. Here the first owner of copyright is the employer.

  2. Where the work attracts Crown or Parliamentary copyright.

  3. Where the work attracts copyright by a designated international organisation, e.g. United Nations and its specialist agencies and the Organisation of American States.

If you want to know more about authorship, please read: Who owns copyright in a work?

Our employer:  They pay our salary and the card was produced during working hours.

Incorrect answer unless you are employed to make cards: s.11(2) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 provides that where a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work is made by an employee in the course of employment, the employer is the first owner of any copyright in the work subject to any agreement to the contrary. However, if your contract of employment does not cover card making, regardless of whether you do this in ‘normal’ working hours, the copyright in the card would not vest with the employer. It is worth noting that in the higher and further education sectors, what “in the course of employment” means has not always proven to be straightforward. When dealing with employer/employment issues with regard to copyright it may be worth checking with your HR (Personnel) department.

Publisher:  Because they publish the card.

Incorrect answer: As the author is the first owner of a work and as copyright can only be assigned in writing, the publisher can only publish a work according to the contractual agreement in place with the author of the work. Some authors assign their copyright to the publishers, others grant (mainly) exclusive licences probably in certain territories/media, and which would state whether the work was being provided with the third-party content cleared. If you want to know more about copyright ownership please read: Who owns copyright in a work?

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Correct Answer

The correct answer is that the author owns the copyright: s.9(1) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act provides that an ‘author’ means a person who creates it. The person who created the card (fixed the work in a material form) would be the author. There are, however, three exceptional cases in which the author of a work is not the first owner of the copyright in it:

  1. Where the work is a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or a film, and is made by an employee in the course of employment. Here the first owner of copyright is the employer.

  2. Where the work attracts Crown or Parliamentary copyright.

  3. Where the work attracts copyright by a designated international organisation, e.g. United Nations and its specialist agencies and the Organisation of American States.

If you want to know more about authorship, please read: Who owns copyright in a work?

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