Until 2019, the band “The Verve” forfeited all its songwriting royalties and publishing rights to ABKCO due to plagiarism of a portion of a symphonic version of the ‘Rolling Stones’ song “The Last Time”. Read more here
Copyright works such as original music, films, art, books amongst others are regularly commercialised allowing copyright owners to gain a competitive edge against their competitors. However, a less known area from which copyright owners can also gain a competitive edge include aspects of design, such as fabric patterns used in upholstery and furnishing, which can be protected by copyright. For example, Abraham Moon, a woollen mill in Yorkshire, UK, held copyright in the design of woollen plaid fabrics. One of their competitors reproduced their design without their consent which led Abraham Moon to successfully bring an action for copyright infringement against their competitors. Source: Abraham Moon & Sons Ltd v Thornber  EWPCC 37;  FSR 17
An owner of copyright in an original photograph (an artistic work) can file a copyright infringement claim against platforms, such as Instagram, to preclude the unlawful use of their photographs.
In 2019, singer Justin Bieber was sued by photographer Robert Barbera for uploading a photograph of himself and Rich Wilkerson onto Instagram without obtaining Barbera’s authorisation or paying a license fee. Illustrating his right to control the commercial use of his work, Barbera emphasised that he “is the author of the photograph and has at all times been the sole owner of all rights, titles and interest in and to the photograph, including the copyright thereto.” Source: Barbera v Justin Bieber Brands, LLC et al, 1:19-cv-09532 (SDNY).
Another example of controlling photographs uploaded onto Instagram without authorisation or payment of a license fee centred around Jennifer Lopez – also in 2019. In this case, the photo agency (Splash News) owner of copyright in the photo brought an action for copyright infringement, against Lopez, for using their photograph for commercial purposes, but, without their consent. Source: Splash News and Picture Agency, LLC v. Lopez, 2:19-cv-08598 (C.D. Cal.).
Copyright does not provide opportunities for absolute monopolisation, as with some industrial rights like patents. However, owning copyright could possibly help create a quasi-monopoly, by which the price of products protected by copyright as a whole or in part may be set slightly higher than competitors’ products, which potentially lead to the increase in revenue and ROI. For example, products and services sold in Disney World are expensive, but it seems like the price can be justified, as there is no other alternative for consumers. Further information
Copyright protection of original creative works including computer software is formality-free in countries party to the Berne Convention – currently 128 countries. See this link to WIPO’s website for more information
Microsoft forbids the unlawful reproduction of their software (protected as a literary work) by end users on the basis of their license agreement. In 2014, Microsoft brought a case against a UK-based software retailer (Discount Licensing) which unlawfully resold and imported Microsoft’s software into Europe. Although the case was settled out of court and Discount Licensing ultimately admitted that they had infringed the copyright of Microsoft, the defendant was still required to pay Microsoft a large amount of money for damages and legal costs. Source: news.microsoft.com/en-gb/2014/02/03/second-handsoftwarer/
In order to strengthen your position in case of litigation, keep careful original records of the existence of copyright and your rights to it, marking works where possible with the copyright symbol © and date of publication to show the existence of the copyright.
Even though official registration is not needed for copyright to exist and give protection, it may still be worth registering an important copyright in key countries such as the USA and China, thus providing clear evidence of ownership to aid success in mediation/settlement discussions or in legal infringement proceedings.
Enforcing copyright to stop unauthorised use of original works may be difficult and often expensive in practice if a simple warning letter proves unsuccessful. The help of an experienced IP professional may prove invaluable in achieving this.