Semantron 23 Summer 2023

Copyright law

One way to overcome this obstacle is to provide legal aid to the parties involved. The current legal aid 22 and civil legal advice systems 23 available for civil cases provide support for debt, family and housing problems while intellectual property cases are not included. But, as with domestic disputes and one's dignity, creativity and innovation should also be protected by the law because of their contribution to societal development. Therefore, it is necessary for the legal aid and legal advice systems to be reformed in order to address the economic concerns of copyright cases so that the minority party of a case can access the same resources as the majority party and the litigation will be treated fairly. Reducing the litigation cost of copyright cases can also increase the chances of obtaining a fairer verdict. In many jurisdictions, such as the United States, Canada and China, copyright registration is available and acts as an important element when taking legal actions since ‘ such registrations serve as prima facie evidence of valid copyright ’. 24 This reduces the room for argument and negotiation as well as litigation costs, as legal actions may become unnecessary when such obvious proof is provided. On the other hand, while ‘s ubstantial part ’ is a key component for copyright judgements, it stifles creativity due to its ambiguity. The law should be amended since it would be extremely beneficial for both legal practitioners and copyright owners if the definition of copyright was clarified. Affording judges less room for interpretation might limit the number of controversial judgements. As the ‘ substantial part ’ of the work is currently interpreted by the courts and determined based on case law under the Copyright, Patent and Trademark Act 1988, the judgement may contain bias since the interpretation of the court may vary and there may be differences between cases. For the UK government to deal with this issue, it should study other jurisdictions, such as the United States, where the usage and objective of various ‘ substantial similarity ’ testing are clearly stated. By providing multiple forms of tests, it enables judges to identify ‘ substantial parts ’ and resolve cases more efficiently and effectively. ‘ Substantial similarity ’ testing may also reduce the risk of a judge from making mistakes regarding technical details of the work involved since it provides a more holistic and diverse view of the case. Additionally, parties may generate revenue and income by exploiting the grey areas of copyright law. In my opinion, in the case between Shepard Fairey and Associated Press regarding Barack Obama's ‘ Hope ’ poster, Associated Press took advantage of the vague definition of the law and managed to settle the case successfully before any judgements were made. Associated Press obtained the royalties for the poster even though the financial terms of the settlement were never disclosed. These acts undoubtedly limit creativity as parties were not treated fairly under the existing law and the minority party may not have sufficient resources to battle until the end of the suit. Therefore, the law should be revised in order to achieve justice and tackle the grey area of the law to prevent the abuse of copyright.

Copyright law and technological advance

The current law regulating and governing copyright is the Copyright, Patent and Trademark Act 1988. Although the law has been amended several times over the years, the act remains the basis for

22 GOV.UK (n.d.) Legal Aid. Available at: (Accessed: 28 February 2022). 23 GOV.UK (n.d.) Civil Legal Advice . Available at: (Accessed: 28 February 2022). 24 Cheung, PY. (2022) ‘EPQ Research on Copyright Law’. Interview with Poyiu Cheung. Interviewed by Yan Hung LUI, 08 March.


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