Walter v Lane: HL 6 Aug 1900

Reporter of Public Speech Owns Copyright I

A reporter attended a speech by Lord Rosebery. His report of the speech was republished in the Times after another journalist who had not been present published a verbatim copy. He claimed a copyright in the work he produced.
Held: The first journalist had copyright and was entitled to succeed. The House considered what was required to establish originality for copyright purposes. Copyright subsisted in reports prepared by shorthand writers’ of public speeches as ‘original literary’ works. The speeches were made by the Earl of Rosebery in public when reporters were present. The reporters made notes in shorthand, transcribed them, corrected, revised and punctuated them and published them in newspapers as verbatim reports of the speeches. A speech and a report of a speech are two different things. Lord Rosebery was the author of his speeches. The shorthand writers were the authors of their reports of his speeches. They spent effort, skill and time in writing up their reports of speeches that they themselves had not written. Even though the reporters had intended only to reproduce the speeches as accurately as they could, the works they prepared remained original works.
Lord Halsbury LC said: ‘I should very much regret if I were compelled to come to a conclusion that the state of the law permitted one man to make a profit and appropriate to himself what has been produced by the labour, skill and capital of another. And it is not denied that in this case the defendant seeks to appropriate to himself what has been produced by the skill, labour and capital of others. In the view I take of this case the law is strong enough to restrain what to my mind would be a grievous injustice.’

Lord Halsbury LC
[1900] AC 539, [1900] UKLawRpAC 52
Copyright Act 1842
England and Wales
CitedCaird v Sime HL 13-Jun-1887
Literary Property – Professor in a University – Publication – The lecturer had delivered his lecture to a class of students. A speaker has a common law right of property in his speech before it is delivered to the public and may prevent its . .

Cited by:
ApprovedExpress Newspapers v News (UK) plc 1990
If summary judgment is given to one party on his claim, it must also be given on a counterclaim made on the same basis by the defendant. The principle that a party to litigation cannot ‘approbate and reprobate’ (or ‘blow hot and cold’) can curtail a . .
ApprovedHyperion 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 . .
CitedCala Homes (South) Ltd and others v Alfred McAlpine Homes East Ltd ChD 6-Jul-1995
The plaintiff alleged that the defendant had copied its house designs after a senior employee involved in creating the designs left and eventually came to work for the defendant. The plaintiff alleged that the copying was flagrant allowing . .
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 . .
CitedMacmillan and Company Limited v K and J Cooper PC 14-Dec-1923
(Bombay) . .
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 . .
CitedFlorence A. Deeks (Appeal No. 18 of 1932) v H G Wells and Others PC 3-Nov-1932
(Ontario) . .
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 . .
CitedRaft Ltd v Freestyle of Newhaven Ltd and Others IPEC 13-Jul-2016
. .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Intellectual Property

Leading Case

Updated: 10 November 2021; Ref: scu.225202