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Is a Belief in the Right to Own Copyright a Philosophical Belief in terms of the Equality Act 2010?

No determined the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in the case of Gray v Mulberry Company (Design) Ltd, although it is believed the case may be appealed.

Ms Gray was dismissed for refusing to sign an intellectual property agreement which she felt interfered with her own work as a writer and film-maker. Ms Gray had not stated at any time during her employment that she had a philosophical belief in protecting the ownership of her artistic creations, but later brought a tribunal claim alleging that she had been discriminated against because of this belief.

The EAT concluded that the Employment Tribunal had correctly determined that the asserted belief ("the statutory human or moral right to own the copyright and moral rights of one's own creative works and output") was not sufficiently cohesive to form any cogent philosophical belief system, and therefore did not meet the recommended criteria to conclude "philosophical belief".

The EAT considered that Ms Gray's actions indicated that she was concerned about losing control of the copyright to her private creative output but that her objections could be described as trying to protect her own private interests and not a genuine manifestation of the "belief". The EAT agreed with the ET's view that the belief had not attained the level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance required to achieve protection.

For more information please contact Nicola Gray or Martin Sinclair, or call 01224 632464.

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