Bird & Bird Wins Case For The Estate of James Joyce

22 November 2001

Court finds Macmillan guilty of copyright infringement

International law firm, Bird & Bird has won today a landmark court ruling for The Estate of James Joyce in a copyright infringement case against Macmillan Publishers Ltd over the publication of "Ulysses" A Reader's Edition" (edited by Danis Rose) in 1997. An injunction prohibiting further publication of copies of the book was granted and Macmillan and Rose have also been ordered to pay compensation to the Estate.

The ruling, which was handed down in court this morning, is a first for the UK Courts in its review of European Legislation, which was introduced in 1996 extending the term of copyright in literary works.

The case came to court because Macmillan failed to obtain approval from The Estate of James Joyce who own copyright in the works of the famous author. The Estate issued High Court proceedings following the publication of Macmillan's version of Ulysses in 1997.

Following a 7 day trial in October this year, Mr Justice Lloyd ruled that Macmillan and Danis Rose infringed the Estate's copyright in various manuscripts and draft documents, which Joyce produced when writing Ulysses but which remained unpublished until some time after his death.

The judge also ruled that Macmillan and Rose had copied the original edition of Ulysses published in 1922. Although this went out of copyright in 1991 it was revived in 1996 following European Legislation harmonising the term of copyright protection for literary works. This case is the first time the UK Courts have had to consider regulations dealing with revised copyright in detail.

The Bird & Bird team was led by partner Morag Macdonald and assisted by lawyers Audrey Horton, Jacqui Irvine and Petra Williams. Bird & Bird instructed leading Counsel John Baldwin QC and junior Counsel Fiona Clark of 8 New Square.

Commenting on the case, Morag Macdonald said: "this is an excellent result both for the Estate of James Joyce and for the protection of literary works, the patrimony of British Arts and Culture and the heritage of the English language more generally."

Representing Macmillan were Denton Wilde Sapte.

For any more information, please contact Morag Macdonald on +44 (0) 20 7415 6000, or on her mobile, 07711 014 353. A full copy on the judgement will be available on http://www.courtservice.gov.uk/judgments/judg_home.htm