Devine Justice?

The pre-eminant IPKat (www.IPKat.com) noted an interesting copyright case yesterday where blogging it out on social media took over from slogging it out in Court.

Tatty Devine produces handmade fashion jewellery for the likes of Tate, Selfridges and Gilbert & George. At the other end of the fashion jewellery spectrum is Claire’s Accessories, the high street chain which sells faddish pieces at pocket money prices. So, when TD spotted a necklace in Claire’s Accessories that looked ‘identical’ to one of its own designs, it took issue.

I’d like to think if this happened to my clients they would be straight on the phone to me (you would wouldn’t you?) and before the morning was out we’d have dropped a stop it or drop it (“cease and desist”) letter straight to the MDs inbox.  Tatty Devine’s first call was not to their lawyer though, instead they blogged their discontent to the world and ran a “spot the difference” page on their website.  In any copyright infringement case the claimant has to show that the whole or ‘substantial part’ of their work was copied. What better way to establish if this than a massive straw poll?

While I admire this outpouring of righteous indignation at copyright infringement, there are limits to what can be achieved using social media this way. For a start, Facebook and Twitter can’t award compensation to the claimant as a Court can and they won’t order infringing copies to be destroyed like a Judge might. Also, these public forums can turn from supportive to subversive in a matter of clicks as moderation is nearly impossible.

So, if you think your copyright is being infringed speak to your lawyer. Run a ‘spot the difference’ exercise in your studio or office by all means, but if you can’t tell them apart, don’t tweet your friends, talk to a wise IP owl.

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