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How Do I Enforce My Copyright?

PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.

Copyright is a right that exists as soon as you create the copyright material. You do not have to apply for it. There are some exceptions to copyright, but unless one of these applies, anyone else using your material without your permission is infringing your copyright. The damages receivable for breach of copyright depend on the commercial loss to the copyright owner resulting from the infringement.
Normally, an informal settlement is to be preferred. If you do have to go to court, however, being seen to have tried to achieve a mediated settlement will do you no harm at all.
If you cannot resolve the matter informally, you may need to issue court proceedings. You will need legal advice for this and, in particular, putting together the evidence necessary to prove ownership of the copyright and the commercial impact of the infringement can be an onerous task.
There is a range of legal remedies for breach of copyright:
  • You can ask for an injunction which requires the infringer to stop making further infringing use of your material;
  • The court can award you damages for infringement of your copyright, based on your commercial loss; and/or
  • The infringer can be ordered to deliver up infringing items to you.
Where the infringement is deliberate, intentional or wilful, the court may provide additional remedies, such as increased damages.
Any material you come across will usually be someone’s copyright, so do not be tempted to ‘borrow’ material for your own purposes. It is important to find the copyright owner and obtain their permission to use it.
The exceptions to copyright are limited and can be found on the Intellectual Property Office website at
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