Proof of Copyright, Duration & Damages


Where your work is similar to another, there are four possible explanations:

  • The work was copied from your work
  • Your work was copied from their work
  • Both works were from a common source
  • Coincidence

Coincidence is often quoted. However, the more commonplace the subject matter, the less improbable is the explanation of coincidence.

Copyright is not a monopoly right and no infringement occurs by an act of independent creation. This is often expressed as saying there must be a causal connection between the copyrighted work and an infringing work.

If you are of the view that your copyright has been infringed it is important that the work is identified and then cross-referred to your work. It is for you to assert your ownership, for example, prove you are the owner, simply by saying you are is not enough.


If someone infringes your copyright you are entitled to damages. Damages, for the purposes of Copyright infringement, are remedial, therefore, they seek to put the parties into the position that they would have been in had the infringement not occurred.

Therefore, if you are a photographer and you sell each picture for £50 and if a person takes 20 photographs from your website without permission, you are owed £1,000 in damages. You may also be able to recover your legal fees (depending on the size of the claim).


Each strand of copyright (for example, each type of work) holds a different duration. These have been indicated below:

Literary, Dramatic, Musical and Artistic works last for 70 years + the life of the author. This is to say that once the author has died, the copyright will expire 70 years from that date (up to the end of the calendar year). If the author is unknown the copyright will expire 70 years from the date that the works were created.

Broadcasts, Films and Computer Generated works expire 50 years from the date that the works were created or if made available to the public, 50 years from the date of availability. Once copyright has expired those works become 'public domain' which means that they can be copied and used at will.

Article supplied by Lawdit Solicitors, specialists in intellectual property, internet and e-commerce issues. Lawdit offers discounted fees for all Freelance Directory members.

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