Month: April 2024

The Curious Case of Computer-Generated Works (CGW) in THJ Systems v Sheridan

By Dr Patrick Goold

A few years ago, I wrote a short article arguing that the section on computer-generated works in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA) is either meaningless or lacking justification. At the end of December 2023, the Court of Appeal took a step toward the position I outlined in that article.

As many readers will know, copyright is a property right which subsists, primarily, in ‘original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works’ (s1(1)(a) CDPA). ‘Originality’ in this sense refers to the relationship between the author and the work. In modern EU and UK jurisprudence, a work is original if it is the ‘personal intellectual creation’ of an author and flows form their ‘free and creative choices’. In such cases, copyright vests initially in the author. There is, however, an exception in s9(3) CDPA. If a work is computer-generated – that is, not authored by a human – then copyright ought to be vested in the person who made the ‘arrangements necessary for the creation of work’. In the only case to interpret this provision (Nova Productions Ltd v Mazooma Games Ltd & Ors [2006] EWHC 24 (Ch)), the programmer of the computer was held to be such a person.

In The Curious Case of Computer-Generated Works under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, I argued the s9(3) provision makes little sense. Broadly, the section could be interpreted in two ways. For simplicity, I will refer to them here as options A and B. Under option A, s9(3) must be interpreted consistently with s1(1)(a), meaning that such works must be original to enjoy copyright. Under option B, s9(3) is an exception to s1(1)(a), meaning that such works do not need to be original to be protected. However, if option A is selected, then the provision is incoherent. In that case, the statute dictates that where there is no human author, then the work should only receive protection if there is an author who supplies the necessary originality (!).  Furthermore, in this eventuality, s9(3) is meaningless because the person supplying the necessary originality would be entitled to claim copyright in the normal manner. In the alternative option B interpretation, then the provision is not meaningless, it is just a bad law. It is no longer meaningless in this scenario because it expands the scope of copyrightable subject matter. It is a bad idea because there has never been a particularly good reason for doing so.

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Warming up to Arctic Shipping?

By Dr Pia Rebelo

Diminishing ice shelves in the Arctic caused by climate change are allowing for new maritime routes in previously unnavigable marine spaces. This coincides with increasing oil and gas exploration plans in the arctic region which will no doubt require maritime services. The shipping industry may also want to capitalise on these newly opened routes as they provide shorter sailing times which can eventually result in fuel savings and less time at sea for seafarers. In a recent article authored by Dr Pia Rebelo and Mr Cyril Uchenna Amaefule published in the Environmental Law Review (ELR), the unique risks and hazards of Arctic shipping are discussed from a marine insurance perspective. While the authors do not necessarily advance an argument for increased economic activity in this ecologically sensitive region, nor is climate change viewed as an economic advantage, they do posit that insurers require better risk management frameworks to safeguard against the multitude of risks that are associated with artic shipping and to address some of the gaps in existing regulatory frameworks.

It is argued in the ELR article that in order for arctic shipping to become commercially practical, marine insurers require improved data and risk management methodologies in order to better calculate the premiums of Hull & Machinery (H&M) and Protection & Indemnity (P&I) insurance policies for ships travelling through the Arctic. Until such risks can be assessed, evaluated, and managed; marine insurers are likely to be cautious gatekeepers of arctic shipping pursuits. To date, insurers have paid out more in ship damage that has occurred in the Arctic than they have collected in premiums, which in itself is problematic. For Hull & Marine (H&M) insurers, bespoke policy plans will need to consider challenges caused by the extreme environment. Navigational concerns include, uncertain ice conditions, rapidly changing weather, extremely low temperatures, extended periods of darkness, communication failures due to high latitude, remoteness, emergency preparedness, and limited access to salvage services (Arctic Council, 2020). All of these factors can result in structural damage due to collisions (both ice and ship-to-ship), loss of propulsion, restrictions on manoeuvrability, and loss of entire ship. From a Protection and Indemnity (P&I) insurance standpoint, arctic shipping poses a number of problems with respect to crew safety and occupational hazards, major pollution incidents, wreck removal and salvage, and the impact on third party communities living in remote arctic regions.

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The Commercial Activity Exception to State Immunity, An introduction

By  Katherine Reece Thomas, Associate Professor at the City Law School


My book entitled “The Commercial Activity Exception to State Immunity, An introduction “has recently been published by Edward Elgar. Having practised the law of state immunity (a bit) and taught it a lot over many years, I was delighted when Edward Elgar asked me to write an introduction to the topic for their series ‘Principles of International Law’.

The concept that states should be treated differently to ordinary litigants has grated over the years. Ever since I attended Hazel Fox’s lectures on the then new UK State Immunity Act and subsequently played a small role as a most junior lawyer in the Tin Council litigation in the late 1980s, the question of state accountability in domestic courts has intrigued me. The geopolitical ramifications of the doctrine and the multi-jurisdictional aspect of the relevant litigation have added to the attraction.

If a state descends into the marketplace (as Lord Denning put it in the 1970s) should it not be subjected to the same rules as an ordinary litigant? Does international law require that states be afforded special treatment? Of course, it does because states are sovereign, independent and equal but it is that just? What are the exceptions and how do they operate in practice?

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