Copyright for Information Professionals Practical Copyright for Information Professionals

Charles Oppenheim (Loughborough University, UK)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 1 October 2004




Oppenheim, C. (2004), "Copyright for Information Professionals Practical Copyright for Information Professionals", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 60 No. 5, pp. 581-583.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright for Archivists and users of archives (2nd edition)

Tim Padfield

Facet Publishing


ISBN 1 85604 512 0


In recent months, Facet Publishing has issues a series of books on copyright and related legal issues, including works by Graham Cornish, Pal Pedley, Chris Armstrong and Laurence Bebbington, and Kelvin Smith. These two books comprise the remainder of this spurt of publication. So how do the two books compare?

The first thing to say is that the two books have very different styles and perceived markets. Norman's book is very practical and is aimed primarily at librarians. Padfield's book, in contrast, has the feel of a legal textbook, and is aimed at the very specialist area of archives and their users. Despite these differences in emphasis and style, there is considerable overlap in subject matter.

Turning to Sandy Norman's book first, it is intended to replace her popular series of booklets on cop6yright in particular types of library, and indeed, because of the changes in UK law at the end of 2003, all owners of that series should now throw them away as they are seriously out of date! The book comprises ten chapters, together with various glossaries and appendices and a good index. Some of the names of organisations listed in an Appendix of useful contacts are not explained; a brief description of the relevance of each should have been added.

Norman's book, although written in an easy and readable style, is spoiled by a number of errors; these start on page one of Chapter 1 where it is claimed that copyright gives protection to businesses, when of course, it also protects individual creators. A few lines lower down it is claimed that copyright allows the owner to “exploit their works in any way they wish”, which is not true ‐ it simply gives them the right to authorise or prevent reproduction, broadcasting, etc., which is much narrower. The statement that “if a creator wishes to exploit any of their rights, this is usually done by an assignment” is very surprising considering how much exploitation of copyright is done by licence and not assignment. The explanations of database right and trade marks in the same chapter are ambiguous and potentially misleading, and the statement that reproduction of a registered trade mark for research, private study or education is unlikely to upset trade mark owners is contradicted by the stance of many large corporations, such as Unilever, Coca Cola and Disney. The definition of inventive step under the discussion of patents is inaccurate. The claim that a current awareness bulletin taking copyright items is acceptable under the exception for reporting current events is controversial. On page 46, there is a seriously misleading statement that copying of a substantial portion of a text for non‐commercial research or private study will infringe. The error is repeated on pages 50 and 72. The law is clear ‐ the exceptions to copyright allow one to copy a substantial part of the original, as long as it is for a permitted purpose and as long as it does not damage the legitimate commercial interests of the copyright owner. On pages 57 and 129, there are references to the Bridgeman v Corel case, but since this was settled in a US Court, it has no precedent value in the UK. On pages 130, 133 and 136, other foreign cases of no relevance to UK law are also discussed. The statement on page 69 that copying from the Web is permitted under fair dealing is misleading ‐ in many cases, copying from the web is NOT fair dealing and so is infringement. On page 72, the author uses the word “prosecute” when it should be “sue”, and indeed in other places fails to distinguish the civil law side of copyright from the criminal law side. On page 78, the author suggests the Unfair Contract Terms Act is useful when negotiating contracts, but the Act applies to private consumers and not to a librarian acting on behalf of his or her employer (Richards, 1999). The discussion of the CLA sticker scheme does not make it clear that it is a one‐year experiment and may well not continue after 2004. The reference to the Shetland Times case makes the all too common error of assuming the results represents case law, when it fact all that happened was that the judge decided there was a case to answer ‐ and then the case was settled out of Court. The statement on page 31 that the exception for judicial proceedings only applies after the issue of a writ both flies in the face of the formal definition of this exception in section 178 of the Act, but also in the face of practice by lawyers, so needs to be treated with caution.

The book has one or two minor typos. The e‐mail address for CILIP given is inaccurate. There is too little in the book on the important areas of Moral Rights and database right.

To compensate, the book is extremely well structured, with each chapter having a clear introduction, middle and always ends with a reminder of the key points from the chapter.

There is much less that can be said about Padfield's book. It exudes authority throughout. However, its readability is far lower than Norman's book, and it has a look and feel of a law textbook. It comprises eight chapters, appendices, a bibliography, lists of Acts and cases and an index, which curiously leads you to section numbers rather than page numbers (again confirming the legal text look and feel). Like all too many legal texts, it does not provide the full pagination of cases referred to. References to such cases and acts are liberally spread around the book, but without clear explanations of their relevance.

In section 2.1.15, reference should have been made that although simple words cannot enjoy copyright, Trade Marks can protect them. Section 3.2.13 on copyright ownership in academic institutions should refer to Monotti and Ricketson's seminal book on the topic (Monotti and Ricketson, 2003). Section 4.1.4 on the definition of “commercial publication” should consider whether Print on Demand is commercial publication or not.

The claim in section 8.2.4 that a database created by a corporation cannot attract copyright is, I suspect, incorrect, as the first owner of the copyright can be the employer (Section 11 of the Act). My view is supported by other authorities, who do not draw the same conclusion as Padfield (Rees and Chalton, 1998). Similarly, the claim that relatively few databases will be considered to be copyright is not the general view of lawyers. The sections on patents, confidential information and on data protection are too short to be useful.

Because of the way that many commercial organisations have picked up on its potential for by‐passing copyright restrictions, more could have been made of the exception for judicial proceedings.

The book ends with some excellent model licences, though it is not clear if they can be readily reproduced, and some useful questions and answers.

All told, this is a book to refer to rather than to read cover to cover. It is extremely wide‐ranging, covering all sorts of unlikely and interesting records an archive might hold.

As an overall comparison, Norman's book, chatty in style, makes a good read and can be recommended to anyone wanting a general introduction to UK copyright law. However, its errors, especially on fair dealing, make it unreliable for reference purposes. In contrast, Padfield's book is learned and authoritative, but is not a gripping read, and so is recommended for reference purposes for anyone working in an archive. Much of it will also be relevant to librarians and their users. The two books therefore complement each other in coverage, style and authority.


Monotti, A. and Ricketson, S. (2003), Universities and Intellectual property, OUP, Oxford.

Rees, C. and Chalton, S. (1998), Database Law, Jordans, London.

Richards, P. (1999), Law of Contract, Financial Times, London.

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