Book Review: Digital Copyright Law and Practice

Digital Copyright, Law and Practice by Simon Stokes offers a readable introduction to digital copyright and related areas such as moral rights, database rights and competition law. Simon Stokes is a partner at Blake Morgan and leads the firm’s technology practice in London, he specialises in information technology law, including outsourcing, cloud services, protecting software IP and licensing of market leading data analytics software.

Media of Digital CopyrightNow in its fifth edition, the title was first published in 2002. It argues that digitisation continues to pose fundamental challenges to copyright. Stokes sets out the aims of the book to help educate rights owners, users and their lawyers about these challenges so that they can better protect and exploit their copyright. This book treats digital copyright as a subject in its own right, looking at how the law applies to the digital world. It is presented in nine chapters.

Chapter 1 is titled Why Digital Copyright Matters. It provides an overview of the scope and rationale of copyright, starting with as assessment of the case against copyright. It then contextualises the introduction to copyright with an overview of the international system. This is supplemented with a helpful example that offers a practical exercise with questions that illustrate the points. 

It is argued that the two most significant technology challenges to copyright are first the digitalisation of copyright works and the second is the growth of networks such as the internet that allows global transmission of digital information. Building on this, the chapter provides a helpful overview of how the internet works, explaining the technology and the legal implications of browsing, caching, linking and framing. Stokes proposes that digital technology has left copyright with two options: adapt or die. But, he argues, for the time being the demise of copyright remains greatly exaggerated. 

Chapter 2 sets out the basics of digital copyright law; explaining the key aspects of copyright law that apply to the digital world. It provides as overview of UK copyright law as well as the implementation of the Information Society Directive and the Electronic Commerce Directive.

Chapter 3 covers digital database law and the internet, including the relationship between copyright and database right protection. It also offers some practical suggestions on how digital database rights can be utilised to protect things not typically considered database such as websites, PDFs and possibly even some music CDs.

Chapter 4 turns to digital moral rights, it explains what moral rights are, how they can be infringed and how to deal with moral rights infringements in practice such as when dealing with waivers.

Chapter 5 is titled Digital Rights and Competition Law, it provides an overview of competition law and digital copyright, including UK competition law, EU Law, penalties for breaching competition Law, and the implications for digital copyright businesses.

Chapter 6 covers software, setting out the basics of computer programmes and copyright protection, looking in particular at the Software Directive and what aspects of software are protected by copyright. The chapter concludes with a discussion on open source software and the copyright implications. Stokes argues that the open source movement seeks to use software copyright to promote new co-operative licensing models rather abolish the very notion of copyright. 
Kat & Kat 2.0
Image: Lea Cook

Chapter 7 clarifies at the relationship between digital copyright and e-commerce, including the re-use of content online, licensing and linking, protecting digital images, search engines, online copyright infringement, service provider liability, streaming services and technical protection measures. This discussion is continued into Chapter 8, which looks in more detail at some of the key issues arises from Web 2.0 such as ISP liability, e-publishing, apps, big data, AI and blockchain. 

The last chapter of the book looks at the practical legal issues for organisations creating, exploiting or licensing digital copyright works. The first part of this chapter focuses on industry, and in particular, collecting societies and collective management organisations. The second part of the chapter provides precedent checklists and precedents dealing with some common licensing situations.

This book provides a concise, introductory guide to digital copyright that also offers practical guidance and further reading for more in-depth analysis. Each chapter concludes with a bullet point summary that helps to make the book accessible and digestible. It would therefore be of interest to those practising, working, researching or studying in the field of digital copyright law.

Published: 2019
Format: Hardback
Edition: 5th
Extent: 360
ISBN: 9781509917297
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
Available from the publisher : £60.00
Also available as an ebook: £58.32
And on Amazon: £54.00

Book Review: Digital Copyright Law and Practice Book Review: Digital Copyright Law and Practice Reviewed by Hayleigh Bosher on Wednesday, October 09, 2019 Rating: 5

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