In Robin Ray v Classic FM, the English Higher Court held that a contractor offering solutions owns the intellectual home in the supplies designed for the client. The selection is a helpful guide to contractors as it is a single of the top circumstances in figuring out the regardless of whether a commissioner of intellectual home may perhaps use intellectual home for purposes not expressly contemplated by a written agreement.


Mr Ray was a very respected professional in classical music in England, reputed to have an encyclopaedic understanding of classical music. He was engaged by Classic FM in the United Kingdom in 1991 to compile the radio station’s repertoire, compile playlists, categorising tracks for play lists, and price their recognition beneath every single of the categories. The contract did not deal with intellectual home rights. The consultancy agreement was initially for 11 months, even so the operate of Mr Ray proved valuable for Classic FM, and his solutions had been extended till 1997. Some 50,000 tracks had been ultimately categorised. The outcomes of the operate had been incorporated into a database that was applied to pick music on a rotational basis, and avert overplaying.

The project was accomplishment. Following internal use for about five years, Classic FM proposed to licence the database to overseas providers. Mr Ray objected and commenced proceedings to avert Classic FM licensing the use outdoors the UK without the need of his permission, on the basis that he was the author of documents that had been incorporated into the database.

The Selection of the Higher Court

Mr Justice Lightman in the Higher Court ruled that in the case of a consultancy, the author retained the copyright in the absence of an express or implied term to the contrary impact. Exactly where solutions by a consultant are performed for an express objective, a court will readily imply a term into a contract for solutions that a client is entitled to use it for that objective. In this case, Classic FM usually intended to utilise the Mr Ray’s operate in the UK. It was not till 1996 that Classic FM intended to exploit Mr Ray’s operate overseas. The court was not ready to imply a licence into the contract that Classic FM would be entitled to exploit his operate overseas. Classic FM was prevented from exploiting their database abroad without the need of the consent of Mr Ray, which would demand payment of license costs.

When implying licences in this way, a court will only go so far as is required in the situations to give impact to the intention of the parties. If a grant of a licence is necessary, the ambit of the licence will be the minimum necessary to give impact to the intention of the parties at the time of the contract. An implied term that copyright would be assigned to a client will be exceptionally uncommon, as most typically an exclusive licence will have the identical impact in law.

The judge held that the contractor retains the copyright in default of some express or implied term to the contrary impact. The contract may perhaps expressly state which celebration is entitled to the copyright, and the mere reality that the contractor has been commissioned – performed by a contractor – ist is not  sufficient to grant rights in the copyright to the client. In the absence of express rights, the client is left to establish an entitlement beneath the express or implied term of the contract.


The selection suggests that contractors retain the copyright in the absence of an implied or express term. An implied licence will have to be affordable and equitable required to give small business efficacy to the contract, capable of clear expression and not contrary to any express term of the contract, and so apparent that it goes without the need of saying. Ownership of intellectual home rights and licenses to use the rights must not be left to opportunity it is preferable to undesirable implied licenses which let a client to use a operate and and rather present the stated purposes for whci use may perhaps be created at the outset of the engagement. As a result it is crucial to document the purposes of the engagement and the intended use for the copyright operate designed through the course of the engagement.