Journal Article

User generated content (UGC): trade mark and copyright infringement issues

Dawn Osborne

in Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice

Volume 3, issue 9, pages 555-562
Published in print September 2008 | ISSN: 1747-1532
Published online July 2008 | e-ISSN: 1747-1540 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jiplp/jpn120
User generated content (UGC): trade mark and copyright infringement issues

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Legal Context

This article concerns the following legislation: Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular, electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (Directive on Electronic Commerce); the UK Trade Marks Act 1994; and the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended).

Key points

ISP takedown can be a practical way of dealing with trade mark and copyright infringement by users on user generated content (‘UGC’) sites. However, in the event that ISP takedown will not work, the UK Courts will have to apply traditional real world trade mark and copyright infringement principles to these new kinds of internet site. It is not clear that owners of UGC sites are liable for infringements committed by users. It is still open for argument. The article discusses the position so far in relation to file sharing sites, auction sites, virtual worlds, social networking sites, blogs, wikis, and aggregation sites and how cases in the UK may be decided in the future.

Practical significance

Without decided test cases, it is not yet clear if owners of UGC sites will be liable for copyright and trade mark infringements committed by users. In this legal state of uncertainty, it is open for IP right owners to argue that there is such liability and UGC site owners to argue that there is not. In the meantime, it suits many UGC site owners to treat themselves as Internet Service Providers to take advantage of defences offered by the E Commerce Directive and brand owners to agree in order to effect expeditious takedown of infringing material.

Keywords: ISP takedown can be a practical way of dealing with trade mark and copyright infringement by users on user generated content sites.; In the event that ISP takedown will not work, the UK Courts will have to apply traditional real world trade mark and copyright infringement principles to these new kinds of internet site.; It is not clear that owners of UGC sites are liable in the UK for infringements committed by users. It is still open for argument.

Journal Article.  5638 words. 

Subjects: Arbitration ; Intellectual Property Law

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