Copyright for Archivists and Records Managers (3rd edition)

Tamara Eisenschitz (City University London, London, UK)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 25 April 2008




Eisenschitz, T. (2008), "Copyright for Archivists and Records Managers (3rd edition)", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 64 No. 3, pp. 464-465.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

There are many books on copyright, but this one is quite distinctive, being written specifically on the problems faced by archivists and records managers. The author, Tim Padfield is an experienced archivist at the National Archives, who specialises on copyright and has some legal training.

The writing is of a very practical nature giving detailed advice on points of law and discussing how the law is to be interpreted in given situations.

The early chapters deal with generalities; what is copyright and what activities are protected; moving on to ownership and acquisition of copyright. The basic law is completed with a chapter on publication, exhibition and performance.

Then we get on to the uses made of works, covering rental and lending, activities under the exceptions to copyright and also what constitutes infringement. There is a substantial section on the particularities of copying in libraries and archives and the provisions made for this. Copying for preservation and use of unpublished works are given prominence here. There is a separate chapter on the electronic environment focussing on the internet and email and also a look at the rights relating to computer programs.

Emphasising the archival aspects of copyright is a long chapter covering special cases such as religious records, estate records, hospital and health records, and many more, 13 in all. Finally comes a chapter on other intellectual property rights, such as moral rights and rights for databases.

The last part of the book consists of reproduced regulations and licences, worked examples of typical questions put to archivists and bibliography and legal authorities. At the very end is a lengthy and quite comprehensive index.

The treatment is very broad and tends to be generic, slotting types of record into their place; central government, local authority, NHS, statutory bodies, etc. The great strength of this book is to bring all these types together, and also the great sweep of mainly UK statutes from the Copyright Act 1710 up to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. The European Directives are treated as appearing in UK law and there is the Berne Convention.

The concentration on archives means that the majority of works dealt with are unpublished. It is useful for general information users to be aware of the differences in treatment applying to unpublished works. In particular there is the “publication right” only applicable since 1 December 1996, equivalent to copyright and belonging to the person who publishes a previously unpublished work which has come out of copyright remaining unpublished. It runs for 25 years after the year of publication giving the publisher copyright exclusive rights with the exception of the moral right. Another interesting anomaly applying to older works, this time published ones, is the concept of being an “orphan work”. This happens when the potential copyright owner cannot be found because they unknown. For instance if a small publisher goes bankrupt who now has the copyrights? Tim Padfield gives the example of the rights in the letters written by Jack the Ripper. It was never identified who he was, so his rights cannot be passed on. However, as a criminal, he would also be most unlikely to have claimed them. More generally there is no defence against infringement if the owner turns up, although one can claim a diligent search in mitigation.

In general, this book has a wealth of detail and would be useful to any practising archivist or records manager. It is also readable and provides an easy introduction for someone new to the field, with enough general introductory material to lead in to the practical details. It will also help any general LIS worker with an interest in archives and records. The needs of an office‐based records manager who needs to establish a collection in a non‐traditional environment are equally considered.

An excellent all round book.

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