British Oxygen Company Limited v Liquid Air Limited: 1925

The plaintiff alleged a breach of copyright by the publication of a letter.
Held: The defence of fair dealing was rejected.
Romer J said: ‘But I need not consider this further, and for this reason; the Act no doubt extends to unpublished as well as published works, and, accordingly, this permission of criticism would seem at first sight to extend to unpublished literary works. The permission was no doubt necessary in the case of unpublished dramatic and musical works, inasmuch as performance in public of such works is not publication for the purposes of the Act. But it would be manifestly unfair that an unpublished literary work should, without the consent of the author, be the subject of public criticism, review or newspaper summary. Any such dealing with an unpublished literary work would not, therefore, in my opinion, be a ‘fair dealing’ with the work. This being so s. 2 sub-s. 1, of the Act does not assist the defendants. In any case I cannot see that it was necessary for the defendants, for the purposes of criticism, to have photographic copies of the work prepared, and to send one of those copies to a broker on the London Stock Exchange for perusal by him and by the defendants’ jobber friends.’


Romer J


[1925] 1 Ch 383


England and Wales

Cited by:

QualifiedHubbard v Vosper CA 1971
Claims of infringement were made as to copyright works being various works about Scientology. Extracts had appeared in the defendant’s book which was critical of the cult. It was submitted by the plaintiff that the fair dealing section applied only . .
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 . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Intellectual Property

Updated: 12 April 2022; Ref: scu.223821