Semantron 23 Summer 2023

Copyright law

This evidence can include submissions of drawings, computer files and records. ‘ Given the large number of records over the long period of time, a large amount of evidence is almost inevitable. ’ 12

The general costs start from around £50,000 for a full trial in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC). That goes up to £750,000 for a full trial in the High Court. However, this is not the only cost of the procedure, as a preliminary injunction application will usually incur costs of around £75,000. 13 60- 70% of winning parties were able to recover the costs from the losing party. Even though the cost may be recovered, the procedure and litigation may seem inequitable for the minority party of the case since some resources may not be accessible to them. The median annual pay of a UK full-time employee is £31,285, 14 so the lowest general cost for a full trial in the IPEC is already two times higher than the UK median wage. Copyright may slowly become a competition between wealthy people and large corporations as the cost of the litigation is so prohibitive, and citizens may be treated unfairly due to the lack of resources and support, such as legal advice and access to legal practitioners. This scenario goes against the original value and principle of the law and stifles creativity.

The ambiguity of ‘substantial part’

One of the elements of copyright infringement is the use of a ‘substantial part’ of the work without the author’s permission. However , the phrase ‘substantial part’ is not defined by the law and has to be determined by the judge based on case law. A small portion of the whole work may already be a ‘ substantial part ’ which is the contention of the majority of cases. Due to the ambiguity of the law, it may stifle the creativity of authors. In the case between Vanilla Ice and David Bowie, the originality of the melody is argued. 15

Figure 1: The bass guitar score for Under Pressure by David Bowie

Figure 2: The bass guitarist score for Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice

12 Cheung, PY. (2022) ‘EPQ Research on Copyright Law’. Interview with Poyiu Cheung. Interviewed by Y an Hung LUI, 08 March. 13 Cordell, N. and Potts, B. (2021) Copyright litigation in UK (England and Wales): overview - Litigation costs. Available at: 3729?transitionType=Default&contextData=(sc.Default)&firstPage=true#co_anchor_a500652 (Accessed: 12 December 2021). 14 Office for National Statistics (2021). Employee earnings in the UK: 2021. Available at: ualsurveyofhoursandearnings/2021 (Accessed: 05 February 2022). 15 ‘Ice Ice Baby’ (2022) Wikipedia. Available at: (Accessed: 11 February 2022).


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