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L2 Graphic Design Foundations: © MMXIX

Legal Issues:


In general, the author or creator of the work owns the copyright.


Copyright is one of the main types of intellectual property. It allows the copyright owner to protect against others copying or reproducing their work.

Intellectual property gives a person ownership over the things they create, the same way as something physical can be owned. The main legislation dealing with copyright in the United Kingdom is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

Copyright arises automatically when a work that qualifies for protection is created. The work must be original, meaning it needs to originate with the author, who will have used some judgement or skill in its creation.

The main works currently protected by copyright in the UK include:

  • Original literary works (such as novels, poems, tables, lists, and computer programmes)
  • Original dramatic works
  • Original musical works (i.e. the musical notes themselves)
  • Original artistic works
  • Sound recordings
  • Films
  • Broadcasts
  • Typographical arrangements (i.e. the layout or actual appearance) of published editions

I repeat: In general, the author or creator of the work owns the copyright.

However, the copyright for work created by an employee during the course of their employment is owned by the employer.


Copyright infringement

Copyright infringement (colloquially referred to as piracy) is the use of works protected by copyright law without permission, infringing certain rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the protected work, or to make derivative works.

The copyright holder is typically the work’s creator, hor a publisher or other business to whom copyright has been assigned. Copyright holders routinely invoke legal and technological measures to prevent and penalize copyright infringement.

ArrowSource: [19/02/19]

Case 1:

Obama poster controversy

The above image was created by Shepard Fairey, however, he did so using a photograph the 2006 shot by a former Associated Press freelance photographer Mannie Garcia.

AP claimed compensation as they had “copyright” of the photograph, however, Fairey sued for a declaratory judgment that his poster was a fair use of the original photograph.

Source: [19/0219]

Case 2:

Monkey selfie copyright dispute

The monkey selfie copyright dispute is a series of disputes about the copyright status of a selfie taken by a Macaque Monkey using camera equipment belonging to the British nature photographer David Slater.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who have argued that the macaque should be assigned the copyright rather than David Slater.



Case 3. Monkey vs Johnny Vegas

A series of adverts for PG Tips tea bags featured the laid-back, droll and composed Monkey(in a variety of T-shirts) who played the straight man to the comedian Johnny Vegas‘s character “Al”.

As Monkey was created and owned by advertising agency Mother rather than by ITV Digital itself, he (Monkey) was the subject of a legal dispute as both (Mother and ITV Digital) claimed the rights to the character.[

This prevented his use (in advertising) for some time, despite many organisations being keen to acquire the rights. The dispute was eventually resolved by both parties agreeing to donate the intellectual property rights for Monkey to Comic Relief.

ArrowSource: [19/02/19]



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