4 responses

  1. Laurence Kennedy
    September 4, 2010

    The complaint about use of logo is almost identical to that in SUN v Mack – http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/opinions/P592_01.html (also in SCLR). Copying may be for parody, but it is copying nonetheless if the new is derived from the old. Wonder if there is freedom of expression issue now though, if the use is intended to express a political view?

  2. JM
    September 6, 2010

    I think you’re right in saying that the use of the original SLC is as much a ‘copying’ in terms of section 16 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act as was the use of the logo in SUN v Mack. The question is then as to the interrelationship between copyright on the one hand and criticism, parody, and satire on the other. The use could be seen as an act of criticism, protected by section 30 of the Act: but it might be questioned whether there was a ‘sufficient acknowledgment’ of SLC’s copyright. The more profound question is the effect of section 171 of the Act, which makes clear that section 16 does not affect “any rule of law preventing or restricting the enforcement of copyright, on grounds of public interest or otherwise”, and this must be read together with Article 10 and indeed also section 12 of the Human Rights Act.

    Miss World deals with this rather slightly, as the right there was trademark rather than copyright (and the court notes the different consequences); but see also Ashdown v Telegraph Group Ltd [2001] EWCA Civ 1142. This makes clear that in principle the Convention right of freedom of expression trumps copyright. For myself, I would have thought that the present case is an excellent example of it doing so; it is in the nature of parody and satire that they use the original; if the South Lanarkshire Council logo had not been parodied as it was, the slogan ‘South Lanarkshire Coalcil’ would have lost its bite.

    There seems to be a striking lack of authority in Scotland and England on the interaction between freedom of expression, satire, and copyright; there are a fair few US authorities (see Rimmer, linked to above). I surmise that this is because the average victim is thicker-skinned than South Lanarkshire claims to be, and would never seriously consider litigation. Ultimately, though, the South African analysis of the interaction in Black Label above seems to me to be persuasive for our law; the question is ‘is this an exercise of the right of freedom of expression’, not ‘is this in breach of copyright’.

  3. Steve Davies
    November 21, 2012

    I agree with you that these are an exercise in the freedom of speech and not a breach of copyright. Having harked from South Africa my self a long time ago i found my self chuckling at the slogans . There must be a way that this kind of abuse using legal threats can be stopped , it is really ridiculous


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