Friday, 3 September 2010
He Had a Go at Have a Go, but Had to Go
The reality is often far less exciting than the expectations we conjure up -- and the litigation in Meakin v British Broadcasting Corporation, Paul Smith and Celador Productions  EWHC 2065 (Ch), 27 July 2010, raised initial hopes that we would get some hugely important ruling on the protection of TV game-show format rights. As it was, the troops spent years lining up against each other (Meakin first complained of infringement in 2004) but the battle was over before it started, Mr Justice Arnold (Chancery Division, England and Wales) granting the defendants summary judgment against Meakin's claims of copyright infringement.
Meakin had claimed, inter alia, that the defendants had infringed his copyright in proposals for his Cash Call TV game-show formats and that they used information in his proposals in a manner which constituted a breach of confidence. His claim focused primarily on a programme broadcast by the BBC called Come and Have a Go ... If You Think You're Smart Enough. Arnold J analysed the viability of the copyright claims by reference to two issues: was the defendants' work derived from Meakin's or was it a reproduction of a substantial part?
As to derivation, the similarities between the Cash Call proposals and Have a Go were insufficient to create an inference of copying: the similarities were general and related to features that were commonplace in the TV game-show arena and at a high level of abstraction. After applying the same analysis of the works' similarities, the judge also concluded that Meakin had no real prospect of proving reproduction of a substantial part of his work.