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Experience:  Solicitor with more than 30 years experience
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Breach of Copyright. Whilst a member of the Institute of Transport

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Breach of Copyright. Whilst a member of the Institute of Transport Administration. I produced a document for use with their Fleet Accrediation Scheme. Folowing a dispute and before it was used I withdrew the document and made it clear I was claiming copyright. Subsequently, the document was re-formatted and minor changes made by a member of the Executive Committe, who claimed copyright for the Institute. The document was then used as part of a submission for commercial purposes. I have tried to resolve the issue without resorting to litigation, with no avail. What is my position and what are the likely costs.
Thanks for your question, my name isXXXXX will do whatever I can to help you today.

What does the member terms say about copyright etc?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

There is nothing in the rules that assign copyright to the Institute.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

There is nothing in the rules to assign copyright of material to the Institute.
Members have claimed copyright in the past and withdrawn material with no problem. My work was acknowledged by two members of the Executive Committee (National Chairman and National Treasurer). My claim for copyright after I had withdrawn the document was not disputed.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Good afternoon. When can I expect a reply?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Relist: No answer yet.
Hi the other expert is no longer available. I am sorry you have ad to wait for an answer. Can you explain please your relationship with the institute/you say you were a member. Is this a voluntary role or were you remunerated? Did you produce the document in your own time and at your own expense? Can you be kind enough to give me a bit more background.Thanks
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I seem to be having problems with my computer. I will respond asap.

No problem. Just so you are aware I am not online all the time but will respond as soon as I can when I hear from you.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I forwarded additional information last night has this been received?

No sorry - As you can see there is no answer in the string above since I acknowledged your repines last night.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

All roles within the Institute, except the Director and Administrator, are on a volunteer basis with no remuneration. The document in question, provides the requirements for the Institute's Fleet Accrediation Scheme together with the associated Audit Report. These were produced unsolictied, in my own time and at my own expense. I considered the documents in use not fit for purpose and would not meet the requirements for accreditation for a proposed project with Transport for London (TfL). Following a dispute I notified all members of the executive I was withdrawing the documents and requested that those who had copies delete them from their systems. In a separate email I asserted my right to claim copyright, this was not disputed. The document was formatted in line with Institute documents with minor changes and submitted as part of a bid for accreditation to TfL.

Subsequently in an email I informed that they had breached my copyright and were guilty of misrepresentation by claiming copy. I provided a definition of copyright as provided by the Intellectual Property Office and also of copyright ownership. Ponting out that two exceptions - that of being employed or commissioned - did not apply in this case. I also pointed out that all documents I had produced and wereused by the Institute copyright was owned by myself. I asked two questions - What action was being taken regarding the breach of copyright and What proposals they would make to resolve the matter. I was then informed that a full response would be given following the Executive meeting on 23 Feb. When no reply was received I subsequently ased for a reply within 48 hours. When I tried to contact the Director I was informed that instructions had been issued that he and others were not to communicate with me. I found this intolerable and resigned. I was then informed that the President would contact me in due course. This consisted of acknowledgement of my resignation only.

I had been informed by the National Treasurer that it would be difficult for me to prove copyright and too expensive to take any action.

Should the bid for the project with TfL come to fruition the Institute will make a considerable amount of money each year.



Ok that is helpful. Your analysis is correct in that copyright in a document is with the author unless the author is employed and the work is produced in the course of that employment. It would seem pretty clear that you retain the original copyright and you merely have to show you are the author to establish that.

There may be some argument depending upon the circumstances in which you produced the document that they have a licence. I am assuming that when you originally made it available you did not specify that it was subject to a terminable licence to use? The fact that you subsequently claim to withdraw the document does not necessarily mean there is no implied licence. It depends upon how long they relied upon being able to use the document and all the circumstances.

I think you have a strong claim but it is right that legal proceedings will not be cheap. You might however achieve something by getting a solicitor to write both to the institute and TFL saying it is your copyright and they are not entitled to use it. You will need to be able to produce evidence of being the author but TFL are unlikely to want to contract with someone on the basis of a disputed copyright. It might provoke the institute to take your claim seriously.
Senior Partner, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 13329
Experience: Solicitor with more than 30 years experience
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