Ashdown v Telegraph Group Ltd: ChD 11 Jan 2001

The claimant, during his career had written private diaries, including minutes of secret political meetings. As he stepped down from leadership, he began to arrange publication. Before this was complete, the defendant published extracts. He complained of breach of copyright.
Held: The claim succeeded. The VC granted a final injunction against any further infringement and directed disclosure of information to enable Mr Ashdown to exercise his right of election between damages and an account of profits. The Human Rights Act did not operate to extend the defences available to a claim for copyright infringement, on the basis that it was needed to provide for freedom of the press. The needs of the right to freedom of expression were satisfied by the defences available under the Act, including that of fair dealing, and there was no need to consider the individual facts of each situation. The need to have particular regard to an element did not mean that it should be given extra weight.
Sir Andrew Morritt V-C considered the meaning of ‘criticism and review’, saying: ‘I accept, of course, that the expression ‘criticism and review’ is of wide import. Cf Robert Walker LJ in Pro Sieben Media AG v. Carlton UK Television Ltd [1999] 1 WLR 605, 614G. Likewise I accept that it is necessary to have regard to the true purpose of the work. Is it ‘a genuine piece of criticism or review, or is it something else, such as the attempt to dress up the infringement of another’s copyright in the guise of criticism, and so profit unfairly from another’s work’? Cf Henry LJ in Time Warner Entertainments Co LP v. Channel Four Television Corpn plc [1994] EMLR 1, 14. But what is required is that the copying shall take place as part of and for the purpose of criticising and reviewing the work. The work is the minute. But the articles are not criticising or reviewing the minute: they are criticising or reviewing the actions of the Prime Minister and the claimant in October 1997′


Sir Andrew Morritt VC


Times 06-Feb-2001, Gazette 22-Feb-2001, [2001] EWHC Ch 28, [2001] 2 WLR 967




Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988, European Convention on Human Rights 10


England and Wales


CitedTime Warner Entertainments LP v Channel Four Television Corporation plc CA 1994
In testing whether a defence to copyright infringement of fair dealing succeeds, the court can take note of the actual purpose of the work, and will look carefully to verify the claimed purpose: ‘it is necessary to have regard to the true purpose of . .

Cited by:

Appeal fromAshdown v Telegraph Group Ltd CA 18-Jul-2001
The appellant complained that a part of his confidential diaries had been republished without his consent by the defendant newspaper group. The defendant appealed, saying that the publication was fair dealing.
Held: The exceptions within the . .
CitedFraser-Woodward Ltd v British Broadcasting Corporation Brighter Pictures Ltd ChD 23-Mar-2005
The claimant asserted infringement of copyright by the defendants in photographs of the family of David Beckham. The defendant admitted using the photographs but asserted that no permission was required since the use was a fair dealing.
Held: . .
CitedForensic Telecommunications Services Ltd v West Yorkshire Police and Another ChD 9-Nov-2011
The claimant alleged infringement by the defendant of assorted intellectual property rights in its database. It provided systems for recovering materials deleted from Nokia mobile phones.
Held: ‘the present case is concerned with a collection . .
CitedThe Newspaper Licensing Agency Ltd and Others v Meltwater Holding Bv and Others ChD 26-Nov-2010
The claimant newspapers complained of the spidering of the web-sites and redistribution of the materials collected by the defendants to its subscribers. The defendants including the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) denied that they . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Intellectual Property, Media, Human Rights

Updated: 23 July 2022; Ref: scu.77890