White SW Computer Law
Intellectual Property, Information Technology & Telecommunications Lawyers
Melbourne Office - PO Box 452, COLLINS STREET WEST Victoria 8007 Australia
Sydney Office - GPO Box 2506, SYDNEY New South Wales 2001 Australia
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Email: wcl@computerlaw.com.au Internet: http://www.computerlaw.com.au

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COMPANY DIRECTORS AND COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENTS

Steve White, Principal - White SW Computer Law

If a company is found to have infringed the copyright owned by another party the directors of that company may be found personally liable for such infringements by authorising or procuring such conduct by or on behalf of the company.

In the case of King & Rylands v Milpurrurru, Marika,Payunka and The Public Trustee for the Northern Territory, King and Rylands were directors of a company which was found to have infringed copyright in aboriginal artworks. The court found the directors personally liable for the infringement as they had authorised the infringement by taking no action in respect of the company's copyright infringement after being served with court documents. On appeal and after much expense the Court found that as King and Rylands were not involved in the day to day management of the company and did not know of the illegal importation they were not personally liable.

More recently, Steven Lagos, a company director of the company Palm Beach Pty Ltd was found to have infringed Microsoft's copyright in the case Microsoft Corporation v Auschina Polaris Pty Ltd & Ors. In that case, Palm Beach had imported unlicensed copies of Microsoft programs into Australia. It was found that Lagos knew that if the copies had been made in Australia they would have constituted an infringement of copyright and that he had authorised or procured the infringement. It was ordered that he had to personally pay Microsoft the value of the unlicensed programs without any deductions for the purchase price and other expenses.

All directors and especially single directors of companies should take note of these decisions.

STEVE WHITE
WHITE SW COMPUTER LAW
MARCH 1997

www.computerlaw.com.au

© White SW Computer Law 1997

This article is a guide only and should not be used as a substitute for proper legal advice, readers should make their own enquiries and seek appropriate legal advice.


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