What is Copyright? This tricky subject seems to be infringed upon every tiny aspect of our lives. Did you know that the song ‘Happy Birthday’ is copyrighted? I bet you didn’t. It’s kind of strange to think that so many things we say, write or sing in our every day lives could be breaching the law.
Copyright is defined, by the Oxford Dictionary, as ‘the exclusive and assignable legal right, given to the originator for a fixed number of years, to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material’. In other words, a person or perhaps a group or organisation could choose to ‘copyright’ a piece of material of there’s, such as a brand name, a company logo or maybe a commercial jingle. A person may even have a phrase copyrighted. For example, Paris Hilton owns the phrase ‘That’s Hot!’. If you use something of somebody else, without their permission, you may be punished under the Copyright Act 1968, which sets out the steps which must be followed ‘in order for a copyright owner to protect their rights if counterfeit goods have been seized’.
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It is so easy to be caught, or accused of breaching copyright laws, even more so when you’re within the public eye. There have been numerous celebrity court cases involving infringement of copyright, such as ‘X17 v. Perez Hilton’. Celebrities are constant targets for Copyright Infringement accusations, for the reason that they are famous. Their work is know globally, and therefore, if they produce something that is not entirely their own, they can be caught and penalised, usually by fine.
So, be careful the next time you write a school paper, a blog post, a piece of music, say a popular phrase or even when you’re singing Happy Birthday, because you may in fact be breaking the law.
Love always, Beth.