Rethinking copyright

The IPKat has been taking a good look at Ronan Deazley's new book, Rethinking Copyright: History, Theory, Language, which has been recently published by Edward Elgar. Ronan, formerly on the law teaching staff at the University of Durham, now teaches in the School of Law at the University of Birmingham (UK, not Alabama).

What the publisher says:
"This book aims to provide the reader with a critical insight into the history and theory of copyright within contemporary legal and cultural discourse. It exposes as myth the orthodox history of the development of copyright law in eighteenth-century Britain and explores the way in which that myth became entrenched throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. To this historical analysis are added two theoretical approaches to copyright not otherwise found in mainstream contemporary texts. Rethinking Copyright introduces the reader to copyright through the prism of the public domain before turning to the question as to how best to locate copyright within the parameters of traditional property discourse. Moreover, underpinning these various historical and theoretical strands, the book explores the constitutive power of legal writing and the place of rhetoric in framing and determining contemporary copyright policy and discourse."
What the IPKat says: This excellent book raises again the controversial issue of whether we can learn anything - and, if so, what - from revisiting our past. In one sense history can provide an explanation or apology for the present, thus furnishing a factual framework for the snapshot that is copyright today. In another sense it can offer a view of the clash of ideas and principles that helped define the battleground on which today's conflicts between creators, carriers and consumers are fought. This book does quite a bit of each of these. But there is one sense in which Ronan's work is too honest for its own good: it misses the cynic's point that each generation rewrites the past in order to claim the history of its choice. While he exposes as myth the orthodox history of the development of copyright, the question remains open as to the relevant virtues of (i) a past that has been, to a greater or lesser extent, rejected, versus (ii) a myth-based present that we have selected for ourselves. The debate continues!

Bibliographic details: xiv + 201pp, hardback. ISBNs 1 84542 282 1 and 13 978 1 84542 282 0. Price £55.00 (£49.50 from the publisher's website). No risk of rupture.

Concise European Copyright Law

Another neat little volume, Concise European Copyright Law, has emanated from the stable of Kluwer Law International. Edited by two eminent European legal scholars Thomas Dreier and Bernt Hugenholtz, it also carries contributions from IP celebrities such as Lionel Bently (Cambridge University) and Dirk Visser (Leiden University/Klos Morel Bos & Schaap), to name but two.

What the publisher says:
"In the rapidly growing information society, copyright law plays a central role in the creation, production, dissemination and use of creative material and the information it contains. In the past 15 years, the European Union has enacted no less than seven Directives aimed at harmonising copyright throughout the internal market.

Concise European Copyright Law aims to offer the reader a rapid understanding of all the provisions of copyright law in force in Europe, which have been enacted at the European and international levels and features:

* Article-by-article commentary on the relevant European directives and international treaties in the field of copyright and neighbouring rights
* Short and straightforward explanations of the principles of law to be drawn from each provision
* Editors and authors who are prominent specialists (academics and practitioners) in the field of European and international copyright law"
What the IPKat says: The editors are distinguished, as are the contributors to this volume, and the Kluwer series is based on a formula that has been successful in German and Dutch. It is therefore with some regret that the IPKat says he can't be as enthusiastic about it as he had hoped because it simply isn't very user-friendly. There is a list of cited cases at the back of the book, but nothing to tell you where to find discussion of them in the book itself; the print is small and the paragraphs are often extremely dense. The title is also somewhat misleading: less than half the pages are taken up with the European copyright legislation and its commentaries - about as much space as is given to the reproduction of international copyright provisions and their accompanying explanations (though the IPKat agrees it's good to include them). The book is also pretty expensive, considering that (i) the primary materials in it are all freely available and (ii) the book's format makes it difficult for the contributors to display the erudition upon which their reputations are deservedly based.

Bibliographical details: Hardback, xi + 476 pages. ISBN 9041123849. Price 145 euro. No fear of a rupture - the book's definitely mouse-sized.
MORE NEW BOOKS MORE NEW BOOKS Reviewed by Jeremy on Monday, November 06, 2006 Rating: 5

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