Asher Consultants Ltd v Walter (2000), 2000 SKQB 30

Key Principle:

Unless it is made in the course of employment, the creator of a work is presumed to hold the copyright for it. Although the creator of a work may assign copyright to another party, for the assignment to be valid it must be in writing and signed by the creator.

Summary:

The Situation:

You contracted an advertising firm to produce pamphlets for your organisation. You’ve recently discovered that another organisation has used much of the content in those pamphlets for its own purposes. You bring an action against the organisation for breach of copyright. In response, the organisation demands particulars, including evidence that the advertising firm assigned copyright in the pamphlets to you. Are you obliged to provide these particulars?

The Conclusion:

The other organisation is entitled to no more particulars than are necessary for it to file a defence. However, to claim copyright in the brochures, you must provide the organisation with particulars regarding assignment of copyright by the advertising firm. You are obliged to indicate whether the assignment is in writing. In your circumstance, particulars necessary for the organisation to file a defence would likely include a copy of the brochure as well as publication and distribution dates.