Book Review: Copyright – What Everyone Needs to Know

by Graham & Brown
The end of each summer brings its traditional review of teaching curricula and reading lists before the start of a new academic semester. With ‘Copyright – What Everyone Needs to Know’, US scholar Neil Weinstock Netanel, Professor of Law at UCLA, offers a new title to add to your library. 

In this relatively short book, Weinstock Netanel describes the workings of US copyright law in accessible language. The author achieves an excellent balance between coverage and simplicity in the description of the law. Any copyright expert will agree that this is no small feat!

It should be stressed that this book is not aimed at a legal or academic readership, as clearly indicated by its title. Rather, the book ‘speaks’ to a wider audience with no, or little, legal background and no specific knowledge in copyright. Whilst much of what is described in the book will also hold true for many other countries, the book centres on US copyright law. Having said that, references to other jurisdictions do punctuate the analysis throughout to take into account the international dimension of copyright – and rightly so.

Even though the book is intended for the general public, specialists who are interested in comparative work in copyright may find it to be a useful introduction into the US copyright system. This is because not only does the author describe the content of US copyright law but he also places it within its (American) context, which, as Kat readers know, is essential to fully grasp the way that this field of law operates. By ‘context’, I mean both the legal context of US copyright (e.g., the federal structure, the constitutional dimension, and the role of the US Copyright Office) as well as its practical context (e.g., how it is used by the American entertainment industries, how it has been shaped by new technologies, and the legal role of service providers). For instance, the book discusses how large-scale licensing rates are negotiated and how copyright policies have been influenced by different corporate monopolies over the years, this against the backdrop of references to relevant agreements, cases and licensing rates. This attention to the context of copyright law makes this book a well-rounded introduction to US copyright law. 

Pr. N. Weinstock Netanel
This Kat especially recommends the book to anyone who is unfamiliar with US copyright law, and more specifically, to students who would like to kick-start their summer reading with a gentle (yet engaging!) walk through US copyright law.

Book review: Copyright – What Everyone Needs to Know’ by Neil Weinstock Netanel. Oxford University Press. 10 August 2018. 248 Pages. 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches. ISBN: 9780199941148. Publisher: $74.00. Other retailers: from £7.91/$10.10 (Amazon).

Book Review: Copyright – What Everyone Needs to Know Book Review: Copyright – What Everyone Needs to Know Reviewed by Mathilde Pavis on Monday, August 20, 2018 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. Judging by the book's contents and index, only a limited amount of material on Creative Commons licenses tacked on the end under legislative reform and nothing at all on open source software licensing, both of which are regulated under copyright law.

    One of the defining technical/legal issues of our time will likely be the revolution in free software, open data, and open content more generally. Surely these rank more than cursory or no coverage in a book of copyright in 2018?


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