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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
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Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I have a quick question and it’s from the point of view of

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I have a quick question and it’s from the point of view of hoping not to be in breech of copyright. Not sure that my query will bring you much business – so obviously I respect if you wish not to comment!
Quick summary :
I am writing an App which analyses the performance of a horse rider’s dressage tests. In case you’re not familiar: once a rider has completed a dressage test they are given an A3 sheet of paper from the judge which is simply a big table divided into a number of rows of columns. It lists (already printed) all the test movements with the scores awarded and any comments (generally hand-written) by the judge.
These tests are written by various bodies e.g. British Dressage, and British Eventing. I understand that the tests are subject to copyright.
I have up until now with the development of the App, programmed into the code some of the tests so that on the screen, the text from the actual paper table appears more or less like the paper copy (Wording, column headings etc).
I contacted one of the dressage organisations recently, seeking permission to display the tests - to which they said no which obviously I respect.
My question is : Rather than I program in the tests; if the user simply saw a blank table on the screen – with headings and the user was expected to type in the text from the table, would I or the user be in breech of copyright? In a similar way : If the user simply typed all the information from the test into say a Spreadsheet, would they also be in breech? (the App screen for entering info is very much like a spreadsheet).
As I say, if you can’t help I do understand. Have tried ‘googling‘ similar situations online, but have returned not much – well apart from your website!!
Kind regards,
Tim Hurr
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Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Hi Nicola,Thanks for searching. Please keep looking for a bit longer. I can wait a few more days.Thanks,Tim
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Thank you for your patience,

There is no intellectual property in an idea and therefore if you somebody else had the idea and you have copied it, there is no breach. However if you use any of the wording from anyone else’s website or literature then that is potentially breach of copyright. You are going to need to change the title of the headings and all the wording or get consent from whoever has that text.

You cannot be in breach of copyright if you do not input the data and if someone does input someone else’s wording, you will not be in breach provided you do not publish it.

Can I clarify anything else for you?

Please take a moment to look at the top right hand corner of the page and rate my service by clicking one of the stars at the top of the screen. Then press Submit. Thank you. If you still need any point clarifying, I will still reply because the thread does not close.

Best wishes.


Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thanks for your reply. So just to clarify:The App cannot be published/distributed because EVEN if the screen consisting of a blank table (headings renamed) and the user types the text from the sheet to the phone/tablet device, that is breaking copyright?So at home, if I typed up the sheets into an Excel Spreadsheet that would make Microsoft liable too?Bit perplexed - sorry! Tim

No. Not at all. I’m sorry I didn’t explain it properly.

There is potentially copyright in the layout of the table (without the tax) but I cannot think for one moment how anyone possibly bring a successful claim for that.

If the title of the headings of different words than used in the official item and provided those words are not generic words which would identify the originator (words such as Total, date et cetera which are not identifiable) then there is no breach.

The test is whether anyone without specialist knowledge would look at your table and the wording and look at the table and the wording of the original and say that they were the same. Provided it looks different to the average man in the street, (including individual phrases) then there is no breach.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for prompt replies. My trouble is that the user would copy pretty much word for word the text from the sheet into the App because the tests have particular terminology e.g. "track right", "circle 10metres diameter". Of course I would NOT publish the text any user has entered. It is for the users personal records : once text and scores entered, statistics and graphs can be produced. You have been brilliant in your swift replies. Just to check : If user types all the text in; i set up only generic headings - as you say Total; I don't publish any text that user entered (I can't stop users grabbing screen shot though and circulating though). Would I break the law? Many many thanks. Tim

It doesn’t matter if the user copies it word for word if it’s for their own use and you don’t publish it. It is the publishing it which is problematical potentially.

In the last scenario where it’s only being used for the users purposes, there is no breach.

F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10401
Experience: I have been practising for 30 years.
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Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for your help. Will rate you highly (just got to find out where to click!). Many thanks. Tim