Ignorance is still no excuse

This little case skipped across the IPKat's path: it's another summary judgment dispute, Polydor Ltd and others v Woodhouse and others, which came before Mr Justice Lawrence Collins in the Chancery Division yesterday. So far it has only appeared as a note on the Butterworths All England Direct service.

Polydor and the other claimants belonged to the British Phonographic Industry Ltd (BPI), an organisation that represents the interests of recording companies and seeks to protect their collective rights. The identity of the second defendant had been obtained through an order made against various internet service providers, whose internet facilities had been used by P2P file-sharers for infringing copyright in sound recordings.

On obtaining a sample of files downloaded by the BPI, Polydor sent a letter before action to the second defendant. After he failed to provide a satisfactory response, Polydor sued for infringement. The second defendant admitted he owned the P2P software and conceded that his children used it to download music, but said he did not know that his acts infringed, that he made no money from his actions and that he no longer had any music download sites on his computer. Polydor applied for summary judgment against him on the basis that he had no defence to the action, the application being supported by evidence obtained from a shared directory in the second defendant’s name.

Below, left: UK courts pioneer new punishment for ignorant copyright infringers

Lawrence Collins J allowed the application, on the evidence before him. It was clear that the second defendant had the internet account and was the named account holder. Noreover, in respect of 'primary' infringements, it made no difference whether the defendant knew or had reason to believe that what he did was an infringement. The IPKat agrees. While ignorance or innocence are factors that may go to the issue of how the court treats an infringer, they do not affect the fundamental issue of whether he infringes in the first place. Copyright owners and their representatives are now doing a great deal to publicise their rights, which in any event reduces the chance of any infringer persuading a court of his innocence.

Ignorance is no excuse here or here
Ignorance is bliss here

Turning brain-power into big bucks?

The IPKat forgot to blog this yesterday: it's the Telegraph's account of the debate between Cambridge University and its academic employees over control of the intellectual property rights (for which read valuable patents, designs and industrial copyrights) in works created by the latter.

Being an academic himself, the IPKat is thinking better of expressing his views free of charge. Merpel however thinks this review of the issues is pretty well balanced, as are the issues themselves. It's a question of finding the right degree of flexibility to ensure that academics are neither solely responsible for the commercial exploitation of their IP rights nor excluded from the process (or the proceeds) of that exploitation.

How to make the most of brains here and here

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