Beloff v Pressdram Ltd: QBD 1973

A journalist on The Observer sued the publishers of Private Eye for having published a memorandum of the plaintiff about a politician, Mr Maudling, which had been circulated amongst the employees of The Observer.
Held: The defences to a claim of copyright infringement of fair dealing and of being in the public interest were separate. The court rejected the defence of fair dealing. The relevant fair dealing must be fair dealing for the approved purpose and not dealing which might be fair for some other purpose or fair in general. What amounts to fair dealing is a question of fact and impression and that matters which had been held to be relevant included the extent and importance of the quotation, whether the work was unpublished, the extent to which the work had been circulated and the motives and intention of the alleged infringer: ‘The law by bestowing a right of copyright on an unpublished work bestows a right to prevent its being published at all; and even though an unpublished work is not automatically excluded from the defence of fair dealing, it is yet a much more substantial breach of copyright than publication of a published work.’ and
‘ . . the disclosure justified in the public interest, of matters carried out or contemplated, in breach of the country’s security, or in breach of law, including statutory duty, fraud or otherwise destructive of the country or its people, including matters medically dangerous to the public; and doubtless other misdeeds of similar gravity’.

Ungoed-Thomas J
[1973] RPC 765, [1973] 1 All ER 241
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedHyde Park Residence Ltd v Yelland, News Group Newspapers Ltd, News International Ltd, Murrell CA 10-Feb-2000
The court considered a dispute about ownership and confidence in and copyright of of video tapes taken by Princess Diana before her death.
Held: The courts have an inherent discretion to refuse to enforce of copyright. When assessing whether . .
CitedLion Laboratories Ltd v Evans CA 1985
Lion Laboratories manufactured and marketed the Lion Intoximeter which was used by the police for measuring blood alcohol levels of motorists. Two ex-employees approached the Press with four documents taken from Lion. The documents indicated that . .
CitedMcKennitt and others v Ash and Another QBD 21-Dec-2005
The claimant sought to restrain publication by the defendant of a book recounting very personal events in her life. She claimed privacy and a right of confidence. The defendant argued that there was a public interest in the disclosures.
Held: . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Intellectual Property

Updated: 19 November 2021; Ref: scu.223822