Am I a pirate?

By the Intellectual Property Office


COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT is rife in this age of digital exchange of information.

Before you reproduce an image or illustration that you don’t have permission or a license to use, read this article by the Intellectual Property Office – it might save you from legal action.


Piracy word cloud shape concept


When you think of pirates, is it Captain Jack Sparrow or business men and women working 9 ‘til 5 in suits and skirts that come to mind? Today, a pirate can come in many surprising forms.

Does your business use someone else’s materials (such as photographs, images, text or music) on a daily basis? This could be online, in brochures or in your advertising materials. If so, do you have the right to use it? If you’re not 100% confident that you can answer yes to that question then maybe you should reconsider its use.

What is piracy?

Creative and artistic works are covered by an intellectual property (IP) right known as copyright. Using copyright protected material without the owner’s permission is an infringement of their rights. Whether you’re aware of the infringement or not, this could make you a pirate.

There are two types of copyright infringement:

Primary infringement – copying, reproducing, adapting, renting or broadcasting a work. For example, playing music in public without a license.

Secondary infringement – selling or importing a work or assisting a primary infringement. This would include selling items that you know are not legitimate, such as bootleg DVDs.

How do I avoid piracy?

There are three simple steps you can take to help limit your chances of becoming a pirate. Understand who owns the rights to your materials – if you’re unsure, find out! If a third party creates any materials for you, make sure you put a contract in place to identify who owns the copyright.

Get permission. If you want to broadcast music in your shop or office, make sure you’ve got the right licences. For example a Public Performance Licence from PRS and PPL.

Get creative. The best way to avoid using a work without permission is to create your own. Instead of using someone else’s photographs, take one yourself.

 The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has a range of online business support tools called ‘IP for Business’ to help you understand, use and protect your business’ IP assets. IP Equip is a free, online training tool to help you gain a better understand-ing of the main IP rights. Its copyright module will help you identify the copyright material your business used and how to protect it.


All Articles