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ACID Campaigning Landmarks

Copyright Criminal Sanctions Increased from 2-10 Years

Copyright, etc. and Trade Marks (Offences and Enforcement) Act 2002

First a little history.… copyright was originally a tool of political censorship, the Statute of Anne was enacted by the British Government in 1709, named after Queen Anne, this was the first full-fledged copyright statute in the world. The Statute of Anne granted publishers of books legal protection for 14 years and also granted 21 years of protection for any book already in print, which meant whoever produced royal material had the right to stop anyone else from copying it or replicating it.

Copyright was first used to protect literary works, and was then extended sequentially to print works, then artistic works, musical works and then theatrical works. By the end of 19th century, what started as a tool of political censorship was now a norm for protecting works.

The 1886 Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, usually known as the Berne Convention, is an international agreement governing copyright which states that for all counties (or parties) in the ‘Berne Union’ it is prohibited to necessitate registration for a copyright and that it copyright exists the moment a work is recorded in a material form. It also imposes a condition that countries recognise copyrights held by the citizens of all other parties to the convention.

99% of copyright protection is afforded to 2D designs, if that drawing is reproduced in 3D, it would then be protected by design law. In 1988, designs were protected by artistic copyright law, an attractive design, that had eye appeal, could be protected by registered design (for up to 15 years), whereas, something purely practical could be protected by copyright (life of the creator + 50 years).  This was set out in The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (c. 48).

In 2002 the Copyright, etc. and Trade Marks (Offences and Enforcement) Act 2002 made amendments to the 1988 Act to deal with growing copyright infringement, piracy and counterfeiting and criminal sanctions were increased from 2 years to a maximum of 10 years for the offence.

However, Unregistered design is the other side of the coin to Copyright –  Unregistered design and copyright have much more in common than an unregistered design and a registered design, the latter of which was also afforded criminal sanctions for deliberate infringement of a registered design of up to 10 years in The IP Act 2014. Unregistered designs are the poor cousins – with no criminal sanctions for deliberate infringement!

Nick Kounoupias, ACID IP Director has consistently lobbied for equality of rights between Copyright and Unregistered design right saying, “There is no obvious reason for the disparity of protection. This may have been overlooked during the frenzied last minute lobbying and amendments made to the CDPA in 1988 as it was passing through Parliament. Design right protection was a relatively late innovation in 1988 and at the time it was probably felt that it was a step too far to extend to design right the new improved protection introduced for copyright in 1988. Certainly no rational basis for the inequality has been advanced by Government.”

Dids Macdonald, OBE., ACID CEO agrees, “Why should a furniture, jewellery or product designer be given less protection than a musician, artist or author?  Unregistered designs should attract criminal sanctions for deliberate infringement in the same way that they are afforded to copyright and registered designs for their deterrent effect.”




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