Raymond A. Wall, Sandy Norman, Paul Pedley, and Frank Harris. Copyright made easier. 3rd ed. London: Aslib-IMI, 2000. 548 p. ISBN 0 85142 447 3 £42.
The book with a title promising an easy understanding of law will be attractive to anyone who has to deal with legal questions, especially so complicated as modern copyright. However, reviewing a guide on copyright for an internationally accessible journal it is essential to point out that this particular one is written for British copyright users and deals mostly with copyright legislation in the United Kingdom.
Having said that I would like to emphasise that Wall and his collaborators have addressed practically all main general problems occurring in most European countries and beyond. The issues of balancing the interests of right owners and users, definitions and distinctions between copyright, related rights, database right, fair dealing and piracy, permissions and infringement, copying, reproduction, and lending in libraries, the influence of electronic environment on developments in copyright and licensing areas - all this and much more is of universal importance in any country of the world.
Librarians will find practical advice on document delivery, copying, and on-line services, educational institutions - provisions about distribution and usage of copyright material for the course of instruction or examinations, the authors - a clear cut explanation of moral rights, and many others can benefit from this publication in general. Besides, Chapter 13 covers international copyright, including the EC Copyright Directive as it was proposed. Together with the information about licensing, database right, and new developments in electronic networked environment, this makes the 3rd edition a very significant contribution for updating the public awareness in the field of modern copyright.
No one will find it as easy to read or understand as they would wish, but, as the authors remark:
"the simplification of points of law is fraught with danger" (p. vi).
However, the structure of the book seeks to save the efforts and time of its users. It starts with a concise Quick Reference Guide that includes summaries of issues for those "who do not need details" (p.20). These details form the bulk of the publication and provide a key to all major subject areas within copyright. All four annexes (Bibliography, Legislation, EC Harmonisation, From conflict to collaboration?) and the glossary are as important as the material in the main chapters.
The authors are evidently in favour of the balanced legislation that is close to the heart of those few who represent the rights of the users and have to oppose the strong front of the mighty producers of copyright material. In Appendix 4 the reader finds an accurate account of the conflicting attitudes of the producers and the users and the evolving possibilities of compromise for the nearest future. This part might help the users to find the necessary arguments and backing in the countries that previously were happily ignorant of any threats of handicapping intellectual activity through copyright laws.
Dr. Elena Macevičiūtė