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‘My tongue is mine ain’: Copyright, the Spoken Word and Privacy

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This article shows how under the present legislation in the United Kingdom copyright may exist in speech, in particular in interviews and conversations, provided that the words are recorded and constitute an original work. The argument is illustrated and supported by reference to reported cases from throughout the common law world, as well as to news stories and interviews with individuals ranging from Lord Denning to Michael Jackson. Issues arising from the collection of oral history are also discussed. It is further argued that, in addition to the internal analysis of copyright itself, such protection for the spoken word can be justified by the privacy and personality interests of speakers in the use of what they say.

Keywords: Copyright: extempore speech; authorship; fixation; literary work; originality; privacy

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Edinburgh

Publication date: May 1, 2005

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