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Duchess Megan threatens Mail on Sunday with copyright claim

Written by Ellis Sweetenham on 27 February 2019

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Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, has made it clear she will not take the press’s underhand actions lightly, as she is threatening to sue.

The threatened claim would be under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act and in relation to the publication of a letter Meghan wrote to her father, without her permission.

Following the controversy surrounding her fathers actions, just before Markle’s wedding to Prince Harry, she penned him a letter explaining the pain he caused her by putting false stories into the press about their relationship.

Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle, gave the Mail on Sunday permission to publish parts of the letter, which he said was in response to critical interviews published in other publications.

As the author of the letter, it is in fact Meghan who owns the copyright in the letter, which is a literary work. This gives her the right to give permission to third parties for the works use, and on the flip side take action against anyone who uses the work without her permission.

As the whole letter was not published, she would need to show that the parts used were a ‘substantial part’ of the work. This refers to quality over quantity so if its only one or two lines, this doesn’t necessarily put a stop to Meghan’s claim.

At this stage, only the threat has been made. It will be interesting to see how the Mail on Sunday reacts to this and whether a full claim will be filed.

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