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A person who copies the work of another infringes their copyright in that work. This absolute right was articulated in the seminal US case, Fred Fisher Inc., v. Dillingham, which held that the “author’s copyright is an absolute right to prevent others from copying his original collocation of words or notes, and does not depend upon the infringer’s good faith.” Thus, infringement may occur consciously or subconsciously.
This article is a comparative analysis of the doctrine of subconscious copying across the legal systems of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France. First, it explains the legal standard for proving copyright infringement namely proof of access and proof of substantial similarity. Second, it analyzes the doctrine of subconscious copying in the different legal systems. It concludes that a person be held liable for copyright infringement by reason of subconscious copying.
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