Can I copy that – Copyright Law and Defence?

Copyright and Defence

There are some very interesting questions raised by the tech described in a recent article on printing of materials by Defence and some (possible) hurdles that the Department of Defence may have to overcome. On the other hand I can see some possible benefits for defence SME’s as well if tech like this is handled correctly. This is a summary of potential issues only. It is not legal advice. As always I am happy to assist with these or any other commercial legal issues. Some of the main issues as I see them, that will probably require clarification are:
  1. Has the end-user correctly licenced the rights to reproduce / copy / repair the item in question? This could be relatively be straight forward where the item was supplied under an ASDEFCON arrangement directly, but I suggest may require some amendment to the rights given in some cases.
  2. If the original item was not supplied under ASDEFCON terms or was supplied as third party IP, were sufficient rights ‘passed through’ to enable the end-user to reproduce / copy / repair the item? I would suggest in some cases the answer would be no, and there could be issues under the Copyright Act (in the case of drawings or plans used if any) or the Designs Act 2003 that need to be looked at carefully.
  3. If the item being reproduced fails where does liability lie? Is it a warranty that the end-user could enforce? How could you prove what failed?
  4. If the item being repaired fails some time in the future (subject to the terms it was acquired under) could it still be (for example) a ‘latent defect’?
Notwithstanding the above issues, there is an opportunity for SME’s and suppliers to make this tech work for them and possibly bring new opportunities to work with Defence. It will however (I suggest) require another look at the licensing and IP rights sections of any agreement (ASDEFCON or other) used to supply these items.

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