Your Ferraris are safe for the moment, Mr DeMille

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Well here’s an interesting decision from the High Court in London.

Broadly stated, it addresses the question of whether a copyright owner has a proprietary interest to assets purchased from the proceeds of an infringement.

The Claimant film studios (Warner Bros, et al) had already been successful in their infringement actions and though the Defendant company had closed down, the owners had acquired significant assets (cars, homes, etc) using the proceeds of the infringement. The assets were already subject to a freezing order, but the studios sought to claim a proprietary interest in the assets.

To me, it seems as though the studios were trying to shortcut the application of existing remedies to lay claim directly on assets purchased using the proceeds of infringement. This may be only a narrow point of law, but I think the Court was right to reject it.

That said, from a practical standpoint, it may not make any difference because a claimant can always collect money damages from any non-exempt assets a defendant owns. But the Court seems to be saying that the burden is on the party so seeking to make a recovery to prove traceability of assets and not simply be given a carte blanche proprietary interest in all assets.

Of course, there are well reasoned arguments (with which I concur) supporting the judgment, which are summarised here.

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