The BBC reports that Manchester’s Urbis Museum is encouraging its visitors to take part in Bookcrossing, a scheme by which people can leave copies of books that they have finished reading for others to find an enjoy. They can chart the progress of their books by affixing a bar-code to them that can be obtained from the Bookcrossing website. The idea is that those who find the books record their impressions of it on the website.

The IPKat is concerned about the copyright implications of this endeavour. If the books were first sold to their original owners in the EEA then the copyright owners cannot object to the issuing of copies of them to the public under s.18 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 because the right is exhausted under s.18(2). Additionally, there is no infringement of the rental or lending right under s.18A because the definitions of both rental and lending require that the defendant “makes the copy of the work available for use, on terms that it will or may be returned” (emphasis added). Bookcrossing participants wish according to the website to “free” their books so can hardly expect the books to come back to them.

However, the IPKat adds, if a book that was bought outside the EEA is “set free” in Manchester (or anywhere else in the UK) or finds its way there after a number of releases, then the right to prevent copies of the book from being issued to the public is not exhausted. While there is a defence under s.22 for the import of an infringing copy into the UK for private and personal use, this use will not be private and personal if at the time of the import the original owner planned to put it into the Bookcrossing scheme. Additionally, the defence only applies to importation and not the putting into circulation of a copy that has been brought into the UK under that defence. Finally, the defence only applies to infringing copies but most freed books are never an infringing copy because an infringing copy is defined (in s.27) as one where its making in the UK would have constituted an infringement. The making of a book that has been legitimately published and put on sale in a non-EEA country would not have been infringement if it had occurred in the UK so legitimate (but foreign-published) copies entered into the scheme would not fall under this defence.

Read about the effect on authors here
More swapping here and here
Altruism here and here
Click here, here and here if you keep leaving your books behind
Looks like Mr Forgetful forgot to register his domain name ...

READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY? <strong>READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?</strong> Reviewed by Unknown on Friday, August 22, 2003 Rating: 5

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