Some copyright books, Part I

Global Copyright: Three Hundred Years Since the Statute of Anne, from 1709 to Cyberspace, is a collection of essays edited by the academic triumvirate of Lionel Bently (Herchel Smith Professor of Intellectual Property Law, University of Cambridge), Uma Suthersanen (Professor in International Intellectual Property Law, Queen Mary, University of London) and Paul Torremans (Professor of Intellectual Property Law, School of Law, University of Nottingham). The IPKat holds all three in great esteem for a variety of reasons and begs to remind his Queen Mary colleague Uma that either she owes him a drink or vice versa ...

Edward Elgar Publishing -- which is becoming an integral part of the IP publishing environment these days -- has this to say about the book:
"This innovative book celebrates the tricentenary of modern copyright, which began with the enactment of the Statute of Anne by the British Parliament in 1709, and was soon followed by other copyright legislation abroad. The Statute of Anne is traditionally claimed to be the world’s first copyright statute, and is thus viewed as the origin of a system of national laws that today exists in virtually all countries of the world. However, this book illustrates that while there is some truth in this claim, it is also important to treat it with caution.

Written by leading experts from across the globe, this comprehensive (historical) analysis breaks new ground on modern copyright issues such as digital libraries, illegal downloading and distribution, international exhaustion and ‘new formalities’. The expert contributors consider what lessons can be learnt from the achievements made during the last 300 years, and whether they can be used to overcome the new challenges facing copyright".

This in-depth scientific analysis of the legacy of the Statute of Anne 300 years on from its origins will provide copyright practitioners, academics, policy makers and postgraduate students with a unique and fascinating read.".
The IPKat is amused by the contrast between copyright's past, which we are coming increasingly to understand and to appreciate, and its future, which appears as a succession of economic, commercial and technological uncertainties to which the 18th and 19th century solution (private monopolies, individually enforced) and its 20th century successors (collective licensing and management) are struggling to adjust.

The cast of contributors is almost a reflection of the history of modern scholarship itself: diverse in its legal and philosophical roots, and perfectly capable of challenging long-held assumptions.  Of particular interest to this author is Christophe Geiger's essay on the past and present influence of the Statute of Anne on France which, together with Joris Deene's little piece on Anne's influence on Belgium, show that the minds of lawyers and policymakers in civilian Continental Europe are far from closed to foreign thought.

This volume makes for a most enjoyable and thought-provoking read.  This Kat hopes he doesn't have to wait another 300 years for the next such themed collection.

Bibliographic data: paperback, xiii + 522 pages.  The rest is a bit hazy.  The website lists the book's hardback details, which are ISBN 978 1 84844 766 0 and a price of £125 (online price £112.50 from the publisher). Rupture factor: mild.

Moral Rights: Principles, Practice and New Technology, by Mira T. Sundara Rajan, has been recently published by the US branch of Oxford University Press. Mira, who now occupies the Canada Research Chair in IP Law at the University of British Columbia, has also been touched by the magic wand of Queen Mary, where she was all-too-briefly a colleague of this reviewer.  Mira's is the second book on moral rights to emerge within the recent past, the first being the magisterial reference work by Gillian Davies and Kevin Garnett which was published by Sweet & Maxwell late last year (reviewed here). About this book the publisher explains that this is an entirely different sort of book so, if you thought that by spending £165 on Davies and Garnett you wouldn't want to buy another book on the topic, you'd be wrong:
"The doctrine of moral rights is based on the idea that authors have a special bond with their own creative work. At present, the legal status of moral rights demands clarification and assessment as never before, as the international expansion of moral rights occurs in the new environment of digital technology. Just as the survival of copyright law depends on its capacity to adapt effectively to the new technological environment, a new approach to moral rights is also necessary.

Moral Rights: Principles Practice and New Technology is the first work to comprehensively address the role of moral rights in an environment of digital technology, identifying the challenges and confronting moral rights in a digital environment. The challenges are addressed in both practical and theoretical terms, and examples drawn from the legislation and practice of key jurisdictions around the world. Moral Rights concludes with a consideration of how the concept of moral rights can contribute to the re-shaping of copyright law in a digital context."
The book builds from the foundations of moral rights in France and Germany, where their pedigree was quite respectable, and in the United Kingdom, where their legitimacy was not so widely accepted, before projecting them on to the larger canvases of Canada and the United States.  Mira also conducts a particularly interesting investigation into the points of intersection of the inherently personal concept of the moral right with the collaborative, more self-denying open source movement and other digital collectivities. Unlike some commentators who proclaim the death of moral rights, which they welcome on account of its obsolescence, Mira takes a more constructive approach: why jettison an old concept if you can find a new use or application for it?

Bibliographic data: paperback. xxi + 549 pages. ISBN 978-0-19-539031-5.  Price £95. Rupture factor: low. Book's web page here.
Some copyright books, Part I Some copyright books, Part I Reviewed by Jeremy on Friday, April 15, 2011 Rating: 5

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