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Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Recent books

This is something to disappoint the litigation lawyers: Copyright Compliance: practical steps to stay within the law is the title of a very useful work composed by Paul Pedley (Head of Research, Economist Research Unit and Visiting Professor at the London Metropolitan University) and published by Facet Publishing. Paul has also written a volume entitled Digital Copyright, which suggests a degree of expertise in an area in which copyright is said to be under threat and most unauthorised users take few or no practical steps to stay even remotely near the law, never mind within it. According to the publishers' blurb:

"Copyright is not a subject that most individuals or organizations want to study in depth. They simply wish to be able to copy material in the knowledge that what they are doing is within the law [says the IPKat, "if only they did ..."].

Library and information professionals must take a particular interest in copyright matters, because they find themselves placed in the difficult position of, on the one hand, being asked by their users to provide access to content whilst, on the other hand, needing to be mindful of the legal rights of the creators and distributors of intellectual property [this is a tough conflict of interest: the users are generally present and often persistent, while the copyright owners are generally invisible but cast a distant shadow].

... This practical book aims to promote the understanding of copyright compliance by users, and to simplify the task of library and information professionals in advising on it.

Fully supported by examples of case law, the text is divided into two main parts. The first part considers what constitutes an infringement of copyright, and what happens when things go wrong. The second part deals with the question of how to stay within the law, and what one can do proactively to minimize the risks associated with copyright infringement" ....
Says the IPKat, this book is certainly up-to-date and refreshingly direct. Reassuringly it affirms that Creative Commons is not an anti-copyright device but a provider of handy guidance to would-be users, and it doesn't threaten readers with Moorhouse v University of New South Wales, choosing to explain the legal position instead. It is short enough for the non-lawyer to read without suffering indigestion but long enough to leave the non-lawyer with the confidence to get on with his life as an information user/dispenser without booking himself an admission ticket to the Royal Courts of Justice. Well done!

Bibliographic details: xix + 151 pages; hardback; ISBN 978-1-85604-640-4. Price £39.95 (£31.96 to members of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, CILIP). Rupture factor: minor, though watch out for sharp corners. Webpage here.


It is often said of books that they contain subject-matter that is "sexy" (eg exposés of high-profile politicians) or "non-sexy" (eg bibliographies of scholarly writings on 18th century techniques of porcelain manufacture). But what does one make of a title such as Intellectual Property And Biotechnology: Biological Inventions? There is no topic that is more closely rooted in sex than biology -- yet the moment the lawyers move in, the sex moves out. There is a rape episode, but it comes in the form of genetically modified canola.

This book, published by Edward Elgar, is authored by Australian scholar Matthew Rimmer (Senior Lecturer, ACIPA, The Australian National University College of Law, Australia) -- who shares with Paul Pedley (above) the distinction of having written on the altogether sexier subject of digital copyright. What does his publisher say? Let's have a look:

"This book documents and evaluates the dramatic expansion of intellectual property law to accommodate various forms of biotechnology from micro-organisms, plants, and animals to human genes and stem cells. It makes a unique theoretical contribution to the controversial public debate over the commercialization of biological inventions.

The author also considers the contradictions between the Supreme Court of Canada rulings in respect of the Harvard oncomouse, and genetically modified canola. He explores law, policy, and practice in both Australia and New Zealand in respect to gene patents and non-coding DNA. This study charts the rebellion against the European Union Biotechnology Directive – particularly in respect of Myriad Genetics’ BRCA1 and BRCA2 patents, and stem cell patent applications. The book also considers whether patent law will accommodate frontier technologies – such as bioinformatics, haplotype mapping, proteomics, pharmacogenomics, and nanotechnology".
Says the IPKat, considering the technical nature of the topic and the unfamiliarity with its vocabulary to most readers, the author has done an extremely good job. He explains the subject in an open, accessible manner and leads the reader from the known to the unknown rather than dropping him into the middle of it. Though he concentrates on the common law world, he does not ignore French, Dutch and German thought either. One gripe: in 2008, with sophisticated software that enables footnotes to be deposited at the foot of each page without causing major hardhip to the publisher, it is inexcusable for footnotes to be stuck at the end of chapters in the way they have been here. To separate the footnote from the text to which it refers in this manner is to separate intellectual analysis from the pillars on which it is supported.

Bibliographic details: xiv + 377 pages. Hardback. ISBN 978 1 84542 947 8. Price £ 85.00 (with online discount, £ 76.50). Rupture factor: light. Book webpage here.


Now at last for a book with a serious rupture factor: the third edition of Guy Tritton's classic Intellectual Property in Europe. Although Guy's name appears in bold gold lettering on the front of the cover, he has been assisted in this endeavour by five colleagues whose contributions are rightly acknowledged. According to the publisher's (Sweet & Maxwell -- or is it Thomson -- or is it Reuters?) blurb:

"Now in its third edition, Intellectual Property in Europe covers the entire range of laws and regulations affecting IP in Europe [it would be a lot bigger if it did, since all the national IP laws of 27 Member States also affect IP in Europe], giving you all the information relating to this topic. The author, Guy Tritton, provides expert commentary on legislation, regulations and cases so you have complete understanding of the law. You can find out how the legislation offers protection of clients’ rights and ascertain the remedies obtainable for infringement.

This edition also includes: EC Derivatives [thanks, Michal Ghozi, for pointing out that this should be "Directives"] and Regulations, international conventions and pertinent case law, so you are completely up to date with the new developments and case laws. Every aspect of Intellectual Property is covered and is easy to find Offers explanations of European law on IP, patents, trade marks, copyright, design protection and plant variety rights so you have full understanding of these aspects of IP Provides information organised by subject matter enabling you to find relevant information quickly Discusses each subject in general European terms and then highlights individual national differences Gives you guidance on jurisdictions for IP so you are clear on how this works in practice Explains through expert commentary the practical aspects of IP, such as enforcement, licensing, joint ventures and franchising".

This reviewer has always been comfortable with the two earlier editions of this book -- which have almost always been his first port of call when beginning to research topics that are outside the comfortable scope of his understanding or memory -- and he has probably subconsciously absorbed many of its positions. Having spent a good few weeks thumbing this latest edition, he confidently looks forward to continuing to do so.

Bibliographic data: ciii + 1275 pages. Hardback. ISBN: 9780421908505. Price £225 (excluding delivery). Rupture factor: substantial. Webpage here

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