Intellectual Property Rights

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The AGS has recently published a guidance document on Copyright issues arising from the use of consultants’ reports and drawings in the planning process, please click here to down for free.  It is based on a report prepared by Guy Lane of solicitors BLM following his presentation to the AGS members in March 2013.  It gives a useful basic overview of the concepts of copyright protection in the UK and what works created by AGS members may be subject to copyright.  A number of examples are given.

The topics covered include a description of the rights which copyright gives rise to, namely economic and moral rights, and who owns those rights and for how long. Infringement of copyright is discussed, as are defences to a claim of infringement, and remedies for infringement.

An important aspect of copyright law for AGS members is that regarding licences.   It should not be necessary for the AGS member to give his client copyright in the member’s work as a licence should be sufficient for the client to use the member’s work for the project for it was intended.  Some members might feel that this is unrealistic as their clients might expect that the copyright in the member’s work would pass to them.  However, giving the client ownership of the copyright in the work may inadvertently give away ownership of valuable know-how and/or stock-in-trade which the member then might not be able to use subsequently in other projects without himself breaching the client’s copyright.  The member should consider carefully before agreeing to such terms, and should discuss with the client the sufficiency of granting a licence rather than the copyright.

Members must also be careful in using material other than their own in their work. For example, using some short extracts from a report by another consultant supplied by the client, but for a different project, might breach the other consultant’s copyright as it is unlikely that a licence would have been granted for its use on the current project. AGS members should be careful with the use of data from other sources, for example borehole logs, and ultimately should seek advice from their solicitors if there is any uncertainty over the intellectual property rights.

The AGS Loss Prevention Working Group would like to hear of any problems, experiences, comments or views members have in relation to copyright issues. If members would like to share this information then please contact the AGS at ags@ags.org.uk.