For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Something to read this summer I

Social Networking: Law, Rights and Policy is a big book in more ways than one.  Edited by lawyer, lecturer and author Paul Lambert, it lists contributions by a number of noted commentators from Ireland and beyond: the result is a very busy book, crammed with facts, perspectives, legal analysis and social commentary on many levels. At 520 pages it is not too long -- and, if the enthusiasm of its creators and contributors is anything to go by, it could have easily been a good deal longer.  According to its publishers, Clarus Press:

"Social Networking: Law, Rights and Policy is a timely book which examines and explores many of the pressing issues presented by social networking and the array of legal issues, challenges and concerns that it has given rise to. 
Social networking itself is wonderful yet staggering. In a short space of time user populations greater than the populations of nation states have joined social networks. One social networking website and one related website each report amassing over 1 billion regular users. 
Yet the legal and other issues involved with social networking and related websites are getting as many media headlines as the technologies themselves. Some of these are similar to established legal issues.  However, with increasing frequency, the issues are entirely new. In addition, the scale of the issues is at a level unprecedented in collective memory. If that was not enough, the pace of the legal and other issues which must be considered, and more importantly the pace and urgency with which they must be dealt with, add significant temporal pressures. 
It is timely and appropriate for a legal book which seeks to outline the new law and issues relating to social networking. Social Networking: Law, Rights and Policy also sets these developments in the context of social networking but also related websites and the wider developments of Web 2.0 second generation internet". 
Does this volume live up to expectations and publishers' puffery? In this Kat's view it certainly does. To say that its coverage is wide would be an understatement.  Its 34 chapters and multitudinous subheadings rather suggest a methodology of writing down as many legal issues and real-world activities as can be imagined as having any relevance to social networking, shuffling them into some sort of framework and then treating them to a thoroughly contemporary discussion and analysis. Although the book feels a bit like a reference work, it isn't: it demands to be read and understood rather than dipped into when the need arises, since -- like the social media -- its subject matter simultaneously pervades so many subject headings.

Best of all, says Merpel, this book has a sensibly international flavour, a definitely European perspective and a specifically Irish standpoint serves to remind us that, while the internet is global and social networking knows no borders (or very few of them), those who network socially, commercially or professionally are bound by a terrestrial culture, social milieu and set of legal rules that frames their comfort, safety and identity as social media users.

Bibliographic data: paperback, xxix + 520 pages. ISBN: 978-1-905536-55-9. Price: €99, £88 or US$127). Rupture factor: not too bad. Book's website here.

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Primer On International Copyright And Related Rights, by Jørgen Blomqvist (Honorary Professor of International Copyright, University of Copenhagen, Denmark) is another adventurous title from the IPKat's friends at Edward Elgar Publishing.  The author is a former Director of the Copyright Law Division, WIPO, which a cynic might think would qualify him to write a fairly dense piece of bureaucratic obfuscation -- but this is fortunately not the case.  According to the publishers:
"The international law on copyright and related rights is comprehensive [is it really? Merpel thought there was plenty of way to go before we can say that] and complex, spanning over a large number of different treaties which have been compiled and amended over more than 125 years. This book gives a concise, but comprehensive introduction to the rules and their rationales. Its rights-oriented approach makes it equally valuable to the student and the practitioner who needs both an introduction to and overview over the international law in the field. The book explains all treaties relevant today, from the 1886 Berne Convention to the WIPO Marrakesh Treaty of 2013. 
This Primer offers a concise yet wide-ranging introduction to the international norms on copyright and related rights. Expertly written, it describes and analyzes the relevant conventions, treaties and agreements, from the 1886 Berne Convention through to the 2013 Marrakesh VIP Treaty.

• Unique insight from the author’s experience serving as Director of the Copyright Law Division at WIPO.
• Presents the international norms in their historical context, and explains rationales behind the rules and relations among them.
• Thematically organized discussion facilitates the reader’s understanding of the numerous and partly overlapping treaties.
• Approaches the topic from the perspective of tackling complex issues in practice.
• Balanced discussion of both copyright and related rights .
• Guides the reader to the more specialized commentaries for issues requiring further in-depth research.

A must-have introduction for scholars and students who need to develop their understanding of copyright and related rights in an international context, and for practitioners and government officials who require a starting point for researching and resolving complex issues".
It's strange to read a book on copyright that is so driven by the legal content of its subject-matter rather than considerations of business, economics, cultural and political imperatives, but it's fair to say that the author has tackled the international framework for the national battles between creators, commercialisers, disseminaters and consumers in a surprisingly detached manner. Merpel adds, perhaps the book is quite short because the reader is left to add his or her own personal preferences ...

Bibliographic data:x + 267 pp, hardback ISBN 978 1 78347 095 2; paperback ISBN 978 1 78347 096 9 ebook ISBN 978 1 78347 097 6. Hardback [price US$120 (online from the publisher, $108); paperback $39.95 (online $31.96). Rupture factor: low. Book's web page here.

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