Simpsons Solicitors

Corby Family win copyright infringement case

April 29th 2013

A recent case in the Federal Court has underlined how important the permissions process can be to publishers, and how assuming that authors have cleared rights in illustrative materials may not always be the best strategy.

The case was brought against Allen & Unwin by various members of the family of Schapelle Corby (who is currently serving a jail sentence in Indonesia for importing drugs).

The book at the centre of the case painted an unflattering portrait of the Corby family, and included some 37 photos, 5 of which had been taken by Corby family members.

The family members contended that they had never given the publisher any permission to include the 5 photos in the book, and the court agreed. As a result, the court awarded the various family members damages of between $750 and $5000 by way of compensation for the infringements. The court also ordered that the publisher pay the family $45,000 by way of additional damages, stating that the publisher’s infringements were unacceptable, given that the publisher had displayed a “studied disregard” of the copyright owners’ rights and of the regime for copyright protection set out in the Copyright Act. The court also ordered delivery up and destruction of copies of the book still held by the publisher.

The case is available at:

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FCA/2013/370.html

Simpsons has created an online “copyright permissions” portal that guides you through the permissions process for text, images and notated music. The portal is both educative and diagnostic, and was specifically developed with publishers in mind. It can take you through issues such as whether or not third party material you want to use is protected, whether or not you may be able to rely on an exception to infringement, and practical steps you might be able to take to minimise risks. Contact Ian McDonald (Special Counsel, Copyright) at Simpsons Solicitors if you are interested in accessing the portal.

Simpsons Solicitors has both broad and deep experience in copyright matters (including litigation). For further information, contact copyright lawyer Adam Simpson, Managing Director at Simpsons Solicitors.