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Image supplied by Immediate Media

This was another contest about the existence, or otherwise, of what has become the most frequently disputed copyright subject matter – compilations.

The plaintiffs, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), claimed an injunction to restrain what they considered an infringement of the copyright in its periodical, the Radio Times. As we can see in this image, the Radio Times was a publication including the daily programmes for the ensuing week (14 August), giving specific details regarding the day and hour of performance, the name of the artist and listing them under different headings (by place and the frequency to which a listener would.need to tune their wireless set to receive the programme, sometimes indicating that the programme was simultaneously being broadcast elsewhere).

The defendant, a company promoted by an advertisement canvasser, had published the Wireless League Gazette and admitted deliberate copying of the Radio Times.

The trial judge was Mr Justice (John Meir) Astbury (1860-1939) who had previously made his name as a barrister specialised in patent law, for instance, appearing in the famous case concerning Marconi wireless patents. Although his expertise was mainly derived from patent and not copyright matters, he delivered a solid and well-reasoned decision on copyright, granting the injunction requested by the plaintiffs and an inquiry for damages and costs. The interesting question underlying the case was nevertheless to ask why the BBC was so interested in suing for a copyright infringement. The answer probably lies in the advertising revenue coming from the publication of the Radio Times.