HC Deb 25 October 1956 vol 558 cc908-11
Sir Thomas Dugdale (Richmond Yorks)

I beg to move, in page 61, line 26, to leave out "or".

I think, Mr. Speaker, that it might be for the convenience of the House to take this and the next Amendment, in line 26, at the end to insert : "or programme" together.

These two Amendments do not in any way go into the difficulties of the application of copyright law, about which I am an amateur. They deal purely with the question of definition. The Amendments are designed simply to make clear that a written programme is included in a definition of literary work, so that such programmes are entitled to protection under the copyright law. If both Amendments were carried, the definition would then read, ' literary work' includes any written table, compilation or programme. What I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will tell us, when he replies, is either that he will accept the two Amendments in order to make the position abundantly clear or that the position at present is clearer without the Amendments.

I understand that there have been many decisions of the court on the subject of compilations, and that the point is not as clear as it might be. If the House has the opportunity, which it has today in passing this Bill through Parliament, of making the position clearer, I hope that it will take it and that litigation in the future on this point may be avoided.

The new definition would apply to a very wide variety of programmes ; for instance, it would include garden fêtes, horticultural shows, a large number of sporting events, perhaps the most important of which in application to the definition is the programme of race meetings and athletic meetings, and it could even extend to the boat race. There is one thing common to all, which I think that the House will appreciate. All these programmes have a very important common factor, namely, that a great deal of thought and trouble goes into the compilation of them, and I think that the House will agree that those who are responsible for the preparation of the programmes deserve to be protected against pirates and other persons who, for their own personal use, wish to produce them in whole or in part. It is to clarify this point and for no other reason that I move the first Amendment, and I hope that the Government will be able to accept it or explain that the position is already covered by the law.

Commander R. Scott-Miller (King's Lynn)

I beg to second the Amendment.

It seems to me desirable that programmes should be included in the definition of a literary work. We know how difficult copyright proceedings can become, and it would be a pity if someone who had gone to great expense in producing a programme should find that it was "pirated", as my right hon. Friend said, and that benefit was accruing to people who had had no trouble or expense in the matter.

My right hon. Friend mentioned racing. That is an extremely good example, because the promoters of race meetings go to great expense in providing the information which is contained on a race programme. They employ men as handicappers to work out the various weights on which the public forms its opinion about the result of the race. That is a factor which creates great interest in that form of sport.

7.30 p.m.

I do not see why people who wish to pirate and simply copy the programme without having had any expense in the matter should be allowed to do so. My right hon. Friend said that it had not always been established that the compilation was included within the scope of the copyright protection in the courts. I believe that to be true of cases in the courts right up to the House of Lords. The Amendment would make it clear that a programme is the subject of copyright, because it is a literary work. If my hon. and learned Friend can accept this Amendment, it will clear up any future doubts on the matter.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks (Sir T. Dugdale) and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for King's Lynn (Commander Scott-Miller) for putting forward this Amendment so clearly and so helpfully. I have, naturally, considerable sympathy with what they have in mind, but I do not think that the Amendment will actually improve the situation as we have it now. The wording which we have, "table or compilation" is in fact taken from the Copyright Act, 1911, and a compilation means quite simply something which is compiled. There can be no doubt that a programme in fact comes within the definition of compilation.

That being so, there is, of course, no necessity to spell that out in the definition. What my right hon. Friend and my hon. and gallant Friend may have in mind about the difficulty which may arise in this context is that if one claims copyright for a programme, it is not enough to establish that it is a literary work. That is all with which this definition is concerned. One has to establish, in accordance with Clause 2 (1), that it is an original literary work, and the test of originality is whether sufficient knowledge, labour, judgment, literary skill, taste or so on has been bestowed in the compilation.

It will be clear that one cannot list in a Statute those documents which are to have copyright protection as having originality, because the test of originality is a test of fact, each on its own particular facts in each particular case. It would not advance the matter to accept the Amendment, because the point which my right hon. Friend made about whether it is a literary work is already catered for in the definition as it stands.

It is, of course, a principle of drafting not to put unnecessary words into a definition, because of the confusion to which they may give rise. In this context there might be confusion, because "programme", as my right hon. Friend will see from Clause 49 (3), is there used in a quite different sense. The best thing is to leave the Bill as it is. "Programme" will come within the definition of compilation, and the test of originality must always be one of fact, if necessary, for the courts.

Sir T. Dugdale

I am grateful to the Parliamentary Secretary, who has made the position absolutely clear, and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.