Intellectual property and copyright has recently been in the news as Ed Sheeran has appeared in court to give evidence in a High Court copyright trial in relation to his 2017 song 'Shape of You'. Sheeran's song allegedly plagiarises "particular lines and phrases" of Sami Chokri and Ross O'Donoghue's 2015 song 'Oh Why'.
It is claimed that the 'hook' of Sheeran's song is "strikingly similar" to a section of Chokri and O'Donoghue's song, although Sheeran has stated that he does not recall hearing Chokri and O'Donoghue's song and therefore could not have copied it. The matter has raised questions by many as to whether copyright laws need to change to provide more clarity regarding what constitutes a breach of copyright in music. There have been several high-profile copyright infringement cases over the past few years, including a ruling against Katy Perry which has since been overturned. It has been argued that, because so much music is now being produced and many songs rely on familiar melodies, accidental copying of other songs by artists and songwriters is likely to occur. It will therefore be interesting to see the outcome of Sheeran's ongoing High Court trial in due course.
What can I do if I believe my copyright/intellectual property has been infringed?
Depending upon what type of intellectual property right has been breached, and whether it is protected, there are various options which may be available to businesses or individuals. This may include an injunction to prevent a breach from continuing, or a claim for damages as a result of the breach. In Ed Sheeran's case, it is understood that £20million of royalties have been frozen until the matter can be decided.
Ellis Jones are able to advise and act in respect of various copyright and other intellectual property disputes. Intellectual property could be anything created using your mind, for example a story, a piece of artwork including architectural drawings, or an invention. Someone is considered to own the intellectual property if they can show that they:
- Created it, and it meets the requirements for copyright, a patent or a design;
- Bought the intellectual property rights from the creator or previous owner; or
- Have a brand that could be trademarked.
Intellectual property issues can also arise if the property was created whilst in the employment, or commission, of someone else. Unless an employment contract outlines specific rights in relation to intellectual property, it is the usual position that that the intellectual property in any works created whilst in employment will be owned by the employer.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.