Red faces for Labour as it uses copyrighted work illegally

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Despite months promoting the rights of copyright holders with its Digital Economy Bill, the government has caused something of a furore after revelations that its recently crowdsourced campaign poster has breached copyright laws.

The poster is intended to parody Tory leader David Cameron by placing his head on an image of Ashes to Ashes cop DCI Gene Hunt sitting atop his Audi Quattro.

However, the image was not free-to-use but in fact owned by production company Kudos which produces the show for the BBC, and as such subject to strict copyright laws.

The Tories also broke the copyright on the image by repurposing it with the slogan: "Fire up the Quattro, it's time for a change".

Copyright expert Robin Fry from law firm Beachcroft LLP said the poster was a clear example of copyright infringement and highlighted the lack of understanding of the issues among the political parties.

"This is what's called a flagrant infringement of copyright. It's painful that the main political parties are vehement about protecting copyright in parliament but so cavalier outside," he said.

The BBC has also been reported as saying it was not happy with the use of the image, although Fry argued it was unlikely the corporation would take any action in this instance.

"Whether the BBC would choose to bring an infringement action at the time of this election campaign is doubtful given its statutory commitment to impartial political reporting," he said.

According to an earlier report in The Times, Labour's leadership team of Lord Mandelson, Douglas Alexander and Harriet Harman had taken responsibility for OK'ing the poster.

All of which means, in a rather satisfying twist, that Mandelson, the 'subservient plaything' of Hollywood lobbyists and architect of the Digital Economy Bill, has himself been implicated in a spot of copyright infringement.

In the immortal words of DCI Hunt, "You're nicked, sunshine".

08 Apr 2010

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