By Alyson Fixter and Roger Pearson
Publisher IPC Media has won a copyright battle against News Group,
publisher of The Sun , over an advertisement for The Sun ‘s listings
magazine that featured the cover of rival IPC title What’s On TV.
The ad, which appeared in The Sun around the launch of its listings
supplement, showed the What’s On TV cover side by side with another
rival, Bauer’s TV Choice , comparing the two competitors unfavourably
with the new Sun guide.
Mr Justice Hart ruled that The Sun had no
right to reproduce the two covers to advance its own magazine and that
doing so was a breach of copyright.
News Group had claimed that
printing the three pictures could be classified as “fair dealing” –
giving readers the opportunity to choose for themselves.
judge ruled in IPC’s favour in a summary judgement, carried out without
the need for a fully contested hearing – a significant victory for IPC.
The publisher is due to meet the judge again to discuss damages.
IPC spokesman said: “We believe that the protection of our copyright is
of fundamental importance, which is why we brought the action.”
the hearing, IPC had argued that the purpose of inclusion of its front
page in The Sun was to reduce its sales. But it claimed News Group
could have attempted to do this without reproducing copyright material.
News Group argued that what had taken place was comparative advertising and that this should be permitted.
finding in favour of IPC, the judge held that all that News Group
needed to do to make its desired criticism of IPC’s magazine was to
He said this could have been achieved without infringing IPC’s copyright.
ruled that in copying the front page of IPC’s magazine, News Group was
advancing its own work, and that this did not amount to fair dealing
under the provisions of the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act.