Copyright: What is meant by "Primary Infringement"

Jane Lambert

21 Sept 2008  Revised 28 July 2017

S.16 (1) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended) provides that the owner of the copyright in a work has in accordance with the provisions of chapter II of the Act has the exclusive right to do the following acts in the United Kingdom:
  • to copy the work (s.17);
  • to issue copies of the work to the public (s.18);
  • to rent or lend the work to the public (s.18A);
  • to perform, show or play the work in public (s.19);
  • to communicate the work to the public (s. 20);
  • to make an adaptation of the work (s.21) or
to any of the above in relation to an adaptation (s. 21);

Those acts are known collectively as "acts restricted by the copyright" or "restricted acts" and Copyright in a work is infringed by doing or authorizing another to do, any of those acts without the licence of the copyright owner.

References to "doing" an act restricted by the copyright include doing the act in relation to the work as a whole or to any substantial part of the work whether directly or indirectly. It is immaterial whether an intervening act is itself an infringement of copyright.

See also "What is meant by Secondary Infringement" and Case Note: Creation Records Ltd. v News Group


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