Primary copyright infringement occurs when a person carries out any of the following on a substantial part of a copyright-protected work without the consent or authorisation of the copyright owner:
Definitions of what constitutes a ‘substantial’ part of a work can be subjective. In some cases, a four word extract has been considered substantial. A rule followed by many is if something is worth copying, it is protected by copyright.
Secondary infringement may occur if someone carries out any of the following acts without permission from the copyright owner:
- Importing an infringing copy
- Possessing or dealing with an infringing copy
- Providing the means for making an infringing copy
If you or your organisation needs to use or distribute protected work, a CLA licence lets you legally copy content.
What can happen if someone infringes copyright?
Infringing on copyright is illegal for companies and individuals. A person commits an offence if they knew or had reason to believe they were conducting any of these acts or their act would constitute infringement. A copyright owner can obtain these remedies in civil action for infringement:
- An injunction to prohibit further infringement
- Damages for loss
- An account of the infringer’s profit
- An order requiring the infringer to deliver all offending articles, or the right to seize such copies
Certain acts committed without a copyright owner’s consent may be classed as criminal offences and may result in fines and/or imprisonment.
Are there any exceptions to copyright?
There are a number of specified exceptions in UK law which permit copying in certain circumstances (for instance, use in judicial proceedings) or for certain categories of people (for example, the visually impaired).
Another group of exceptions falls into the scope of ‘fair dealing’. This includes material reproduced for the purposes of non-commercial research or private study, for criticism or review or for the reporting of current events. This material must be genuinely and fairly used for these purposes and accompanied by sufficient acknowledgement.
The UK Intellectual Property Office’s website contains a wealth of up-to-date information on copyright exceptions and other types of IP.
How to legally copy copyrighted material
If you want to use copyrighted material in the ways described above, you’ll need permission from each owner every time. There are no industry-fixed fees, so the cost of this can vary a lot as well as it being time-consuming.
A licence from an organisation like the CLA means you don’t need permission from the owners directly. When you tell us what you’ve copied, we distribute royalties to the content creators, fairly compensating their hard work.
The CLA offers licences for businesses, education institutions and public sector organisations.