Wednesday, 13 May 2009

How small an area can a copyright assignment cover?

I've been asked a question and I don't offhand know the answer so I thought I'd share it with readers of this weblog:
"Is there any legal basis for the proposition, expressed by some commentators, that copyright may not be assigned in respect of a geographical area or territory that is smaller than a single country?"
If you can give me any leads, whether in terms of case law or statute, in any jurisdiction, I'll be delighted to receive them. Please post your thoughts below (this is preferred, since it shares the information with other blog readers) or email them to me here.


enric enrich said...

At least under Spanish Copyright Law there is no such limit. In fact, in Spain, where we have four official languages, many licences (especially for TV broadcasting of audiovisual works) are given on a limited territorial basis, for example, Catalonia, Galicia... said...

Since pre-1931 grants of representation in one jurisdiction within the UK are not effective in another jurisdiction in the UK without registration or a fresh grant (although pre 1922 grants could not distinguish between
Ireland as it then was and England) it must be possible for legal ownership of copyright within the UK to be fragmented and for the different jurisdictions to perceive differing legal owners. I am therefore of the view that UK copyright can legally be fragmented between (1) England (2)
Scotland and (3) Northern Ireland, but I am less certain about Wales, and not certain at all about the Isle of Man. I don't think that in 30 years I have ever seen an assignment of copyright that was expressly limited to the Isle of Man, or that expressly carved it out of the UK, although I have seen
thousands that were expressed to extend the The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

Since S 90(2) of the 1988 Act is not linked to the classes of rights
conferred by the 1988 Act, so that it is now possible to assign the right to do ANY (my addition) of the things that the copyright owner may do, it would seem to follow that one of the things he may do is a thing in Hull, and
another the same thing in Halifax.

Kevin Garnett said...

With reference to the question you pose on your 1709 Blog, may I draw your attention to paragraphs 5-99 to 5-102 of that most excellent publication, Copinger and Skone James on Copyright, 15th ed.

In general, and leaving aside issues concerning free movement of goods, etc., I would have thought that the question is a matter for national laws.