Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.

The law on copyright can be found in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Copyright protects literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works that are created by a person’s original creative skill or effort. Marketers could be liable if they reproduce a whole or substantial part of a protected copyright work without permission. If If you are concerned that your ad might breach copyright law we recommend you seek legal advice.

The ASA has upheld complaints about ads that have encouraged customers to infringe copyright laws. Many devices and websites use, encourage or allow users to download (mostly legitimate) music and images. Copyright laws, however, prohibit the copying of material without the permission of the copyright owner. Marketers of such devices should be careful not to encourage consumers to infringe copyright laws by stating or implying that customers may copy copyrighted works without permission. In 2011, the ASA instructed the advertiser of a CD player with hard disk to prominently state that it was unlawful to copy material without the permission of the copyright owner (3GA Ltd, 30 March 2011).

Further information about copyright is available on the Intellectual Property Office website.

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