Thank you for your very helpful answer which was very informative, so informative however, that if revealed how much more I needed to ask!!
First, you mentioned English Law – can I assume the same guidance applies in Scotland?
What are the circumstances were hyperlinks can cause legal problems?
As copyright is not registered, how do I know if a logo is copyright protected? Of course, I assume that if I see the ? symbol it is protected. However, if the company’s website Ts and Cs say “none of the content/material may be displayed” does this extend to their logo? Would a magazine style website be classed as an exception for permitted use of copyright for review and / or reporting of current events (fair dealing)? What is the worst that would happen if I reproduced a copyright protected image in good faith ie in promotion of the company and I immediately removed it if asked.
I note that the use of photographs always require the owners permission.
Thank you for looking a this.
Alasdair Taylor's Answer
Thanks for your follow-up questions.
I don’t have any particular expertise in Scottish law, but I would guess that the position is very similar. I would be very surprised if there were any wide-ranging restrictions on publishing company names, products reviews and hyperlinks. The details of where problems may arise could, however, vary. As regards logos, the relevant provisions of the Trade Marks Act 1994 and the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 cover Scotland as well as England.
The main circumstances where hyperlinks might cause legal problems are:
- link-text which itself infringes copyright (e.g. some newspaper headlines might attract copyright protection);
- links to copyright-infringing material or other unlawful material;
- links which are deceptive or misleading, particularly in relation to consumer transactions;
- links contravening a contractual prohibition upon linking (e.g. if you have agreed not to link in a certain way when accepting someone’s website T&Cs).
You won’t necessarily be able to discover if a logo is copyright protected. As a general rule, I would assume that all logos are copyright protected unless you can prove otherwise. In practice, because of the legislative history of copyright law, it can be exceptionally difficult to trace the subsistence of copyright in old artistic works.
To interpret T&Cs you really need to see the whole document in context. That said, if some T&Cs prohibited reproduction of “any material on the website” (browser cacheing etc aside) then I would usually assume that that covered their logos, unless there was something in the T&Cs to the contrary.
It doesn’t sound like what you are doing will constitute fair dealing – the criticism/review defence is about the criticism or review of a copyright work, not a product. Nor does it sound like the reporting of current events. However, I don’t have the information to form a definitive view on these points.
If you reproduced a logo without permission, then the worst that could happen would be copyright infringement proceedings.
More likely you would simply be asked to remove the logo. Such requests are however often accompanied by a demand for costs/damages.