Ladbroke (Football) Ltd v William Hill (Football) Ltd: HL 1964

What is substantial copying

The plaintiff alleged copying of their football pools coupons and copyright infringement. The issues were as to the extent of copying required to establish infringement, and whether it was proper to look at the several parts of the work separately.
Held: The question of substantiality is a matter of quality rather than quantity. There must be a sufficient resemblance between the copyright work and the alleged infringement, but there is no copyright in a mere idea. The subsistence of copyright involves an assessment of the whole work in which copyright is claimed. It is wrong to make that assessment by dissecting the whole into separate parts and then submitting that there is no copyright in the parts.
As regards originality: ‘The word ‘original’ does not in this connection mean that the work must be the expression of original or inventive thought. Copyright Acts are not concerned with the originality of ideas, but with the expression of thought, and in the case of ‘literary work’, with the expression of thought in print or writing. The originality which is required relates to the expression of the thought.’ and ‘as regards compilation, originality is a matter of degree depending on the amount of skill, judgment or labour that has been involved in making the compilation.’ ‘Substantiality depends upon quality rather than quantity.’
Lord Pearce said: ‘The reproduction of a part which by itself has no originality will not normally be a substantial part of the copyright and therefore will not be protected. For that which would not attract copyright except by reason of its collocation will, when robbed of that collocation, not be a substantial part of the copyright and therefore the courts will not hold its reproduction to be an infringement. It is this, I think, which is meant by one or two judicial observations that ‘there is no copyright’ in some unoriginal part of a whole that is copyright’.

Lord Reid, Lord Evershed, Lord Hodson, Lord Pearce
[1964] 1 WLR 273, [1964] 1 All ER 465
England and Wales
ApprovedUniversity of London Press Ltd v University Tutorial Press Ltd ChD 1916
In a copyright claim, the test of originality which had to be passed was set out by Peterson J, saying: ‘The word ‘original’ does not in this connection mean that the work must be the expression of original or inventive thought. Copyright Acts are . .

Cited by:
CitedNewspaper Licensing Agency Ltd v Marks and Spencer Plc HL 12-Jul-2001
The respondent company subscribed to a cuttings service, but redistributed the cuttings within its offices. The cuttings agency claimed that the re-distribution infringed their rights in the typographical arrangement. The cuttings did not give any . .
CitedDesigners Guild Limited v Russell Williams (Textiles) Limited PatC 14-Jan-1998
The defendant denied that it had copied the plaintiff’s designs.
Held: There was sufficient evidence of copying. It was wrong to dissect a work, but rather the court should look at the matter as a whole. . .
CitedDesigners Guild Ltd v Russell Williams (Textiles) Ltd CA 26-Mar-1999
The claimant alleged copying of designs. The defendant appealed a finding that copying had taken place.
Held: The rejection of the dissection test in Ladbroke was as to the subsistence of copyright and not as to infringement. Evidence of those . .
CitedDesigners Guild Ltd v Russell Williams (Textiles) Ltd (Trading As Washington DC) HL 28-Nov-2000
Copyright Claim: Was it Copied, and How Much?
The claimant sought to enforce its copyright in artwork for a fabric design Ixia, saying the defendant’s design Marguerite infringed that copyright. Two issues faced the House. Just what had been copied and if any, then did this amount amount to the . .
CitedRedwood Music Ltd v Chappell and Co Ltd ChD 1982
It was submitted that an arrangement of an existing musical work only attracted a separate copyright if it involved great skill and labour. After referring to the University of London Press Limited, the court held: ‘That passage was cited with . .
CitedSawkins v Hyperion Records Limited ChD 5-Jul-2004
The claimant had edited ancient music scores so as to be ready for performance for the defendant. He asserted a copyright. The defendants argued that the contribution was too little to create a copyright.
Held: To succeed Dr Sawkins had to . .
CitedHyperion Records Ltd v Sawkins CA 19-May-2005
The claimant had developed historical musical works for performance. They were published by the defendant, by means of recordings of a performance from the scores he had prepared – so called ‘performance editions’. The many hundreds of hours . .
CitedIPC Media Ltd v Highbury-Leisure Publishing Ltd ChD 21-Dec-2004
The claimant magazine publisher alleged breach of copyright by the defendant in their magazine, as to the cover page designs used. It was not clear just which cover was said to have been copied.
Held: The first step in a copyright action is . .
CitedRavenscroft v Herbert ChD 1980
The plaintiff had written a non-fiction book entitled ‘The Spear of Destiny.’ He claimed infringement of copyright by the defendant in his book of fiction called ‘The Spear’. Both books were centered on a spear exhibited in Vienna, said to have been . .
CitedFootball Dataco Ltd and Others v Brittens Pools Ltd (In Action 3222) and Others ChD 23-Apr-2010
The court considered what rights existed in the annual football fixture lists created by the claimants. The claimants said that the list was created only with a considerable effort applying certain rules. The defendants denied that any copyright . .
CitedAllen v Bloomsbury Publishing Plc and Another ChD 14-Oct-2010
The claimant sought damages alleging breach of copyright by the defendant author saying she had copied large parts of the claimant’s work in her book ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’. The defendant now sought summary judgment, saying the action . .
CitedFuture Publishing Ltd v The Edge Interactive Media Inc and Others ChD 13-Jun-2011
The claimant said that the defendant had infriged its rights by the use of its logo on their publications. . .
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 . .
CitedThe Newspaper Licensing Agency Ltd and Others v Meltwater Holding Bv and Others CA 27-Jul-2011
The defendant companies provided media monitoring services, automatically searching web-sites for terms of interest. The claimant newspapers operated a licensing system through the first claimant permitting the re-use of the content on its members . .
CitedInterlego AG v Tyco Industries Inc PC 5-May-1988
How much new material for new copyright
(Hong Kong) Toy building bricks were manufactured by Lego in accordance with engineering drawings made for that purpose. One issue was whether new drawings made since 1972, altering the original drawings in various minor respects but added new . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Intellectual Property

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.191193