ContractAlert - 6 June 2013

Welcome to the June 2013 edition of ContractAlert.

Libel less

On 25 April the Defamation Act 2013 received Royal Assent. The Act makes significant changes to the law of libel:

  • claimants must show that they have suffered serious harm - serious financial harm in the case of businesses;
  • the current presumption in favour of a jury trial is removed;
  • a new statutory defence of "responsible publication on matters of public interest" is included;
  • there's a new defence for website operators in relation to user-generated content; and
  • there are new statutory defences of truth and honest opinion to replace the common law defences of justification and fair comment.

Most of the Act's provisions will come into force under secondary legislation, expected later this year.

Copyright: an inconvenient right

The Supreme Court has found that an internet user will not infringe copyright in any unlicensed material on a website simply by viewing that material in a web browser or having that material cached by the web browser. Users are protected from infringement by the temporary copying exemption in Section 28A of the CDPA, which implements Article 5.1 of the Information Society Directive. However, the matter has been referred to the Court of Justice of the EU for final determination. See this report on the SCA site for a summary of the case.

Sub survival

In VLM Holdings v Ravensworth the High Court ruled that a sub-licence survived the termination of a head licence. This result surprised many English lawyers. While the case may turn on its particular facts - the licensee was a subsidiary of the rights owner - it highlights the need to consider, when drafting a licence document, the effects of termination of the head licence upon any sub-licences. See this article from Olswang for a summary of the issues.

Copyright reform

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act also received Royal Assent in April. The Act makes various changes to copyright law, notably introducing the concept of "orphan works" into English law. See this summary.

AdWords trade mark infringement

Finally, M&S's use of "interflora" and "interflora flowers" as Google AdWords keywords has been found to infringe Interflora's registered trade marks. Not all use of trade marks as keywords will infringe, but you should certainly review your AdWords campaigns in the light of this decision.

SEQ Legal templates

Over the last few weeks we have closed several ecommerce sites, and most of our template documents are now in one place:

New templates since the last ContractAlert are:

The Terms of Business (cleaning services) document has been substantially reworked and is now called Cleaning Services Terms and Conditions.

There have been no other updates to the existing stock of templates since the last ContractAlert.