Can I use someone else’s work in my own?

Can I use someone else’s copy or content in my ad, article, post or comedy show?

The general answer is no. Not without permission.

If you are using work that is under copyright, you should get permission in writing from the owner or their agent first.

A show that had been running at Edinburgh Fringe festival for several years has been stopped and fined as it was judged to have infringed the copyright of the company owning the IP for ‘Only Fools and Horses’.  

The creator of UK TV show ‘Only Fools and Horses’ John Sullivan died in 2011 by which time the IP rights in the show and its characters had been transferred to a company for the benefit of his family. It appears the company is launching a new musical and was worried about confusion and revenue diversion (the show and merchandise) from the Edinburgh Fringe version.

…of course if the copyright has expired everyone is free to use it e.g. the works of  Charles Dickens.

Typically, a work remains under copyright for the length of its author’s life plus 70 years, though there are numerous exceptions to the rule.

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