Digital Copyright (2nd ed.)

Jane Secker (Learning Technology Librarian, London School of Economics, UK)

Program: electronic library and information systems

ISSN: 0033-0337

Article publication date: 25 July 2008




Secker, J. (2008), "Digital Copyright (2nd ed.)", Program: electronic library and information systems, Vol. 42 No. 3, pp. 333-334.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Back in July 2006 I reviewed the first edition of this book which was in fact published as an e‐book. My immediate temptation was to print out the PDF document and I have actually made little use of the electronic version, but referred instead to the print out – which I still have on my bookshelf. At the time I found the book a mine of information about everything relating to digital copyright and I found it provided invaluable advice for those dealing with the use and re‐use of digital resources and the associated copyright issues. Since 2005 when the first edition was published, there have been several significant developments in the digital copyright field. Therefore this new edition, in a much more accessible traditional printed format, is very welcome. Two examples of changes since 2005 are the Gower's review of intellectual property legislation, which was launched in December 2006 and is still in the consultation phase and the Copyright Licensing Agency's Higher Education Trial Scanning and Photocopying Licence which was launched in 2005 for three years – and due to be renegotiated in the summer of 2008. Both cases are also examples of the problems of writing in this field, where changes can easily render a publication out of date, hence the need for new editions.

This second edition is divided into ten rather than eight chapters. Some reorganisation of the previous chapter structure has been undertaken and each chapter has been updated, most notably in terms of the references and sources of further information. Chapter 1 remains largely unchanged dealing with issues specific to digital information. Meanwhile, Chapter 2, which looks at different categories of digital information, has been expanded somewhat to include categories such as e‐books and podcasts. Chapter 3 is a new chapter devoted specifically to digital rights management (DRM) systems, although this has been dealt with more briefly in the first edition. This chapter also tackles the All Party Internet Group's findings into DRM from June 2006 and looks at what the Gower's review from December 2006 has to say about this issue.

Chapter 4 on orphan works is again new and also draws on the Gower's recommendations in this area, as well as providing an international perspective for countries such as the UK and USA, but also specifically Canada, Denmark and France. Chapter 5 explores the permitted acts although the content is again largely unchanged from the first edition. Chapter 6 is updated, but largely unchanged from the first edition exploring licences, contracts and terms and conditions. This chapter is particularly useful for practitioners, and Pedley explains how licences are negotiable and should always be thoroughly reviewed before agreeing to them. He also considers some of the licensing schemes available from bodies such as the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA), and the Educational Recording Agency (ERA), while looking at newer forms of licensing such as Creative Commons and open access. The section on CLA Licences was particularly useful as it provided an overview of the higher and further education licences, along with the business and pharmaceutical licences.

Chapter 7, on educational establishments was particularly of use to me, and it provides up‐to‐date, highly practical information for practitioners working in higher and further education on virtual learning environments and electronic reserves. This new edition now includes a section on electronic theses, which is welcome, and once again the references have been brought up to date. There is once again a chapter devoted to author's rights (Chapter 8) and Chapter 9 again is entitled “Other issues” and covers important topics such as copyright compliance and crown copyright. The final chapter is a listed of further resources.

Similar to the first edition, this book includes a series of highly useful checklists throughout the book on topics such as “Things to consider when deep linking” or “Obtaining copyright clearance in screenshots”. The section on deep linking (pp. 19‐23) is particularly detailed and also includes relevant case law at the end. There are also flowcharts, sample wording for things such as copyright release forms, and a series of highly practical tips throughout the work. The book also has a useful glossary at the start and a list of abbreviations.

Once again, I am not only impressed by the depth of Pedley's knowledge, but also by the concise way he has managed to tackle such a wealth of issues. Pedley covers topics such as Creative Commons licences, the open access movement, and from copyright in commissioned photographs to the legal deposit of web sites. He also explores issues such as digital signatures, issues associated with file sharing in relation to downloading music and provisions for users with disabilities and visual impairment. A useful addition to Chapter 9 is the section on penalties for copyright infringement (p. 131), always useful for colleagues who treat the issue of copyright less than seriously! One small omission I noticed was there was very little mention of Web 2.0 technologies such as blogs, wikis and media sharing web sites (with the exception of Flickr). This is perhaps deliberate as the copyright implications of contributing your comments or content to sites such as YouTube for example, probably justify considerable treatment. But issues such as individuals wishing to re‐use content from these sites when the copyright status of the items can be dubious might have been worthy of a mention. My only other minor criticism is the structure of the book, which at times did lead to topics such as the Gower's review being scattered throughout the book. For someone new to the topic, a comprehensive overview of this review might have been more useful.

Overall, this second edition is extremely welcome and I was pleased to see it produced in a far more traditional, but useful format. I know it will come in handy when answering queries from academic staff and colleagues. I would recommend this book to those new to dealing with copyright issues, but also for those with some knowledge already. It will also be valuable for librarians in all sectors of the profession dealing with digital resources, not just those in academic libraries.

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