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Copyright infringement / plagiarism

Due in part to the growth and speed of the internet, instances of copyright infringement have increased enormously in the last decade. These days, unfortunately, violation and infringement of copyright is an everyday occurrence. In order to safeguard work and income, there are a number of ways in which copyright owners can successfully take action against the plagiarism and infringement of their copyright.

The difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement

From a legal perspective, it is important to be aware of the difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement. If someone decides to copy a poem by William Shakespeare and to pass it off as their own work, for example, then there is no breach of copyright. Shakespeare died more than 70 years ago and the term of copyright for his work has therefor expired. Nonetheless, this is still considered to be plagiarism as a third party is attempting to pass off Shakespeare’s work as their own. However, if someone copies a chapter from a bestseller by Dan Brown without the author’s permission,  then this will constitute copyright infringement even if that person credits Brown as the author.

Exceptions to copyright

Copyright is the exclusive right of a creator of a work – for example, a book, music, a scientific publication or a work of art – to publish and reproduce it. This includes the right to make copies and reproductions of the work, to sell or make derivative products of it, and to exhibit the work in public. However, depending on the jurisdiction, there are a number of exceptions to this rule; for example: the quotation right, the free collection of news, the use of a portion of the work for educational purposes and limited own (home) use. There are also exceptions to copyright in respect of laws, decrees, regulations and court rulings.

Proof of copyright

Leaving aside these exceptions, creators of a work can still in principle oppose and prohibit the use of their work. Although copyright arises automatically, you can still choose to register the work with an official body, for example by means of a so-called ‘i-depot’ or a registration with a public notary. This is evidence to demonstrate the ownership of copyright in the event of a dispute. We also recommend the use of the © symbol to optimally protect rights.

Action against infringement

For those that wish to take action against copyright infringement, it is important to determine whether and to what extent the copyright has been violated. In general, copyright owners will then have to declare the person who infringes their copyright in default and oblige them to respect the copyright. If the infringer does not do this, the copyright owner can commence proceedings and claim compensation. In some (civil) jurisdictions, a public prosecutor can also investigate a claim and, in the case of massive and systematic violation of copyright, has the option of prosecuting the infringer directly.

Would you like to know more about copyright infringement?

Copyright infringement and plagiarism are unfortunately becoming more and more common. As a creator, it is important for you to optimally protect your rights in advance and to consider a strategy to address infringement and/or plagiarism. Novagraaf will be pleased to assist. Together with you, we can determine what steps can and should be taken to prevent or deal with copyright infringement or plagiarism. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact one of our specialists. You can do this by using the contact form at the right top of the page.