On 1 December 1996, one of the best kept legal secrets of the past
few months slipped quietly into force. The Copyright and Related Rights
Regulations Act 1996 implemented parts of three European Union
Directives signed off by the EU in 1992/3.
This has introduced a clutch of rules and regulations, some of which
make an impact directly on advertising. For instance, film directors
who, up until now, have had only the ’moral right’ to object to
derogatory ’treatment’ of their work and demand that their name goes on
the credits, now also hold copyright for their work.
All films, including ads, will now have two copyright owners: the
production company - which has historically been the sole copyright
owner - and the director.
Directors will be able to sue in respect of unauthorised broadcasts,
showings, rentals or copying of any films they directed after 30 June
1994 unless it is proved that the broadcasting, showing renting or
copying is happening under a contract signed before 19 November
In February last year, the Advertising Film and Videotape Producers
Association told the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising that all
AFVPA members had been advised to obtain a full assignment of their
copyright from their director ’as a priority.’
On the strength of this, and the production company’s obligation in the
standard contract to insure against copyright infringement claims and
identify the agency if it were sued by a director, the IPA advised
agency members there was no need for the standard contract to be
The IPA did point out, however, that agencies with any doubts at all
about a production company’s AFVPA membership, or about the contractual
position generally, should check ad directors had signed over the
One of the things directors who have not given away their copyright can
now sue over is unauthorised ’rental’ of their work. An automatic right
to ’equitable remuneration’ for performers and directors, exerciseable
in respect of rentals after 31 March 1997, has been introduced.
In most cases, a combination of statutory presumptions and provisions in
existing contracts should ensure agencies are not assailed with demands
for additional payments across the board, but all those entering into
production contracts from now should take account of this and other
legal wolves dressed up in the sheep’s clothing of this dull-sounding
piece of legislation.