Email - Who Owns the Copyright?

Posted: 2nd April 2011

Copyright is a right which exists without any specific steps having to be taken. It applies whenever there is a work created which contains original skill or labour. It applies to written material and that includes email, as a recent High Court ruling has confirmed.

The case involved a roofing slate company, which sent an email to another company during the course of a dispute about the quality of roofing slates. When the second company forwarded the email on to the roofing contractor who was the defendant in the action, the slate company alleged that the letter involved a substantial degree of independent skill and labour on the part of its author and was therefore entitled to copyright protection. The Court agreed.

The moral of the story is to think before forwarding something by email – you might just be breaching the author’s copyright if you do.
The Digital Economy Act 2010 has updated the law with regard to dealing with copyright infringement online.