Copyright for Archivists and Records Managers (4th edition)

Graham P. Cornish (Copyright Consultant, ©opyright Circle, Harrogate, UK)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 25 October 2011



Cornish, G.P. (2011), "Copyright for Archivists and Records Managers (4th edition)", Library Management, Vol. 32 No. 8/9, pp. 632-634.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

This is the fourth edition of a book, which has already become a standard reference work for those working in archives and records management and those using their collections. The first edition appeared in 2001 and was published by the UK Public Record Office, now renamed the National Archives, where the author is the Copyright Officer. Other editions appeared in 2004 and 2007 by which time the scope of the book had been expanded from archives to include records management as well.

The fourth edition is considerably larger than the third: 345 pages compared with 305 in the third edition. The eight sections remain the same, dealing with the nature of copyright; the protection it offers; ownership; publication, exhibition and performance; use; the electronic environment; special cases, and other intellectual property rights. There are a number of appendices, a fairly extensive bibliography, a list of treaties, statues, legislation and cases and a comprehensive index.

Each chapter is numbered and within that there is a further sub‐numbering for each paragraph or point discussed. So 8 is Other rights; 8.1 is moral rights and 8.1.1 gives a definition of moral rights and so on. This enables individual issues to be located exactly but the user needs to keep their eye on the ball when trying to follow the many cross‐references.

Each chapter leads the reader through the maze of copyright legislation in a logical and comprehensible way, using language, which the non‐specialist can understand. No previous knowledge is assumed and so the author begins at the beginning, explaining how intellectual property works, the different types and how copyright fits into this. As each topic is explained, there are ample cross‐references to other chapters and paragraphs and the exact location of the legislation that underpins the author's interpretation of the law is given. Although this is not necessary for someone trying to answer a query at the reader services desk it can be very helpful, especially if the archivist is challenged by a user a to why a copy of a certain document cannot be supplied. Nothing silences a querulous reader better than a legal citation!

The chapter on electronic materials is very helpful as it raises many questions to which the law gives no clear answer. When is a digitised image copyright? Can it be copyright, even if it is an image of a work, which is out of copyright? What do we do if we cannot find the copyright owner even though the work is clearly (or probably!) still in copyright? And so on.

Compared to the 4th edition the author has made a number of helpful changes. These include an introductory couple of pages called “key points” which are very useful for the non‐specialist to establish the bones of copyright and how it works. Some areas have been re‐worked and re‐worded, especially in the areas dealing with the EU and international legislation. One area where authors would do well to tread carefully in this sort of book is “future developments”. Padfield tries to predict what might happen in the future. During the preparation of this book there was a change of government in the UK and many initiatives were discarded altogether or simply shelved. It should be noted that this book deals with UK copyright and related law and nothing in it should be taken as applying to any other jurisdiction. Many of the materials dealt with, such as manorial records and marriage registers will be peculiar to the UK either in their content or format and this must always be remembered by any non‐UK user.

In addition to the major sections described there are a number of appendices. Of particular value is the chart, which helps the archivist and user to decide whether a work is still in copyright. Duration of copyright in the UK is a very complicated issue and the chart is an excellent guide to this problem. This is expanded to include some 27 pages of tables giving duration of copyright in a selection of other countries. Given that the book is aimed at a UK audience this addition seems somewhat unnecessary and certainly bulks out the book, which must have had an effect on the price. The countries selected are a combination of Commonwealth countries and territories with some others included such as Israel, Egypt and Russia. Whilst this may be useful for the archivist working in a collection, which has an international dimension it is somewhat superfluous for the smaller, specialist or regional archive.

Other appendices include some of the relevant legislation reproduced in full and a further valuable section is the inclusion of model licences for archives that wish to license the use of their materials to publishers, film makers, broadcasters, and so on. Unfortunately, a real piece of fun (yes, I do mean it) is now omitted, namely the provision of some worked examples, together with the answers There is a bibliography which includes both source material and books about copyright. Invaluable is the chronological list of statutes and statutory instruments which relate to copyright, many of which would be overlooked because they do not have an obvious bearing on the topic (e.g. the National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990). There is also a list of cases cited together with helpful notes on how the system for this works in the UK. Finally, the index gives access to those many interesting points, which cannot be located via the fairly self‐evident contents list.

It should be remembered that this is a book for archives and many issues relating to printed materials in libraries are not dealt with, quite rightly and deliberately. Tim Padfield's book is one of a trilogy produced by Facet, the others being Practical copyright for information professionals and Copyright: interpreting the law for libraries, archives and information services.

This book is now a standard work for all archivists in the UK and rightly deserves that status. The author is, once again, to be congratulated on producing a work, which is user‐friendly, readable and often enlightening in ways not expected. Questions such as who owns the copyright in the minutes of the local cricket club should no longer baffle the archivist or the user (or perhaps the pub quizmaster?). This is a work, which has become standard in its original edition and will be an essential tool for anyone working with archival material, whether as curator, conservator, exploiter or user. Although it must be remembered that the law given is that of the UK and that in other countries will differ significantly, nevertheless the author raises many important questions to which the answers may be different in different countries.

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