Staying Legal: A Guide to Issues and Practice Affecting the Library, Information and Publishing Sectors

Raviro Nzenza‐Campbell (Law Librarian, Arnold Bloch Leibler Law Firm, Melbourne, Australia)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 1 August 2004




Nzenza‐Campbell, R. (2004), "Staying Legal: A Guide to Issues and Practice Affecting the Library, Information and Publishing Sectors", Library Management, Vol. 25 No. 6/7, pp. 323-324.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Authors, publishers, software designers, librarians and information managers, academics, freelancers, Web designers, Web operators, IT consultants, students of librarianship, administrators of computing and information management courses. How much law should these professionals know? The need for some legal understanding is essential. Knowledge of legal and regulatory issues and where relevant, statutory requirements and an ability to identify and apply appropriate measures to the creation and capture, storage, dissemination retrieval and destruction of information within the statutory and regulatory framework is required by these professionals. Information landscape is being swamped by an increasing number of new laws and regulatory measures. Just to make it more confusing, laws do not stand still and can be amended, repealed or revoked. Some experts have noted that “law is a bottomless pit”.

Staying legal has been written by different contributors. These authors have produced an authoritative handbook which offers a practical guide to many legal issues and aims to make the law accessible. It discusses new laws and regulatory measures that impact directly on the information landscape.

Topics covered are:

  • the law and information work: legal fundamentals;

  • public access to legal information;

  • copyright in the information age;

  • trade marks and passing off;

  • patents: exploitation and protection;

  • some fundamentals of contracts and applications in information work;

  • agreements, user licences and codes of practice;

  • data protection;

  • criminal law and liability;

  • self‐regulation and other issues; and

  • staying legal from awareness to action.

The book uses no legal jargon, which makes it easier to read. Chapter 1 gives an outline of the legal sources and how the law applies in the separate constituent parts of the UK. It is written from a UK's perspective, nevertheless the contents of the book can be applied across the border internationally.

Garry Power, in his chapter, provides an overview of the need to understand the law that governs us. He then discusses issues on public access to legal information, such as costs, equality of access and education and training. New services that have emerged as a result of good practice in handling and disseminating legal information, e.g. BAILLI, AUSTLII, Just Ask, SOSIG are also covered in his chapter. Such a book would not pass without touching complex copyright laws. What does copyright protect? What exclusive rights does it confer? How long does it last? What are the exceptions to copyrights? Why should we observe copyright? How are copyrights infringed? These questions are outlined by Allison Coleman.

Other chapters deal with intellectual property– trade marks, patents, licensing and licence, and data protection. An overview of the main areas of self‐regulation and the legal issues that could be relevant to the Internet and multimedia are covered, as well as newer laws addressing key issues such as consumer protection, jurisdictional issues, aspects of online contract formation and advertising, liability for content.

Some interesting points are reviewed and previous case scenarios are outlined in chapter 11 on the use of e‐mail, the Internet, hardware and software databases and other aspects of IT communication technologies. The usage of which is raising many far‐reaching legal issues for organisations that can be strikingly embarrassing and costly. The final chapter offers some thoughts on managing the risks associated with this online environment.

There are also a significant literature and references lists throughout the book for further information. Staying legal has succeeded in covering the basic concepts of law and stimulates the reader to actively investigate and learn more about areas of particular interests.

Related articles