Sunday 6 November 2011

Current copyright issues: two new titles

Law Applicable To Copyright: A Comparison of the ALI and CLIP Proposals is the title of  relatively compact and very serious piece of scholarship from Rita Matulionyte (Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany). In essence, it is the author's doctoral thesis, submitted in late 2009, defended in mid-2010 and updated till December 2010. There was a time when publishers would avoid doctoral theses like the plague. Fortunately those days are long past and books -- including some but fortunately by no means all doctoral theses -- are published on the basis of their genuine merit.

But what is this book all about? To anyone who is not at home with acronyms the title gives little away. However, as the publisher's web page explains
"This book discusses the problems of applicable law in international copyright infringement cases and examines the solutions proposed to them in the recent projects by the American Law Institute (ALI) and the European Max Planck Group for Conflict of Laws and Intellectual Property (CLIP). 
In particular, the book analyses how the territoriality principle and the lex loci protectionis rule are applied in traditional, broadcasting and online cases in selected European and US jurisdictions. It then evaluates whether the rules on ubiquitous infringement, de minimis, initial ownership and party autonomy, as proposed by ALI and CLIP, address the identified problems. 
This detailed and thorough study will appeal to academics, researchers, postgraduate and doctorate students, as well as to EU and international policymakers in the field of intellectual property and international private law". 
The author generally welcomes the initiatives both of the ALI and the CLIP, though she draws attention to the fact that the most problematic issue they face is that of the initial ownership of copyright -- a point on which the two approaches diverge: the CLIP proposal opts for a 'multi-law' solution, while the preferred choice of the ALI is a 'single law' approach. Neither, she feels, considers the interests of the work exploitation and the protection of the creator in a sufficiently balanced manner.

Dr Matulionyte should be congratulated for the care with which she has navigated her way through a technical, and for many copyright enthusiasts, dry subject. This book may not influence policy-makers, since it was not written by Cliff Richard or published by a lobby group-- but it will certainly help policy-makers understand the ramifications and possible consequences of what they do decide, should they choose to take a look at it.  With the addition of a table of cited cases and legal materials, it would help a number of practitioners too.

Bibliographic details: publisher: Edward Elgar Publishing. xi + 275 pages. Hardback 978 0 85793 428 4. Price £75.00 (online purchase price from the publisher £67.50).  Web page here. Also available as an e-book (details on web page).

Copyright In The Information Society: A Guide to National Implementation of the European Directive, edited by Brigitte Lindner (Rechtsanwältin, Member of the Bar of Berlin, Germany, Registered European Lawyer, Lincoln’s Inn, London) and Ted Shapiro (Massachusetts attorney, non-practising Solicitor, England and Wales, and denizen of Brussels), is a very different sort of book. The publisher's web page gives a clue:

"Celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Directive 2001/29/EC on copyright in the information society [and just how many people did celebrate it?], this book sheds new light on an important European legal instrument at a crucial stage – not only in the life of the Directive, but indeed for copyright itself. 
With a foreword by the ‘architect’ of the Directive, Dr Jörg Reinbothe, the book contains two further stage-setting parts, first on the WIPO Treaties which formed the basis for the Copyright in the Information Society Directive, and then on the Directive itself. The challenges created for regional and national legislators are also explored and identified, as are the complex compromises and varying levels of discretion left to these lawmakers as they performed their legislative tasks. The local nuances and particularities of the implementation of the Directive in each Member State are examined in detail via 27 diverse and compelling narratives. 
Combining academic research with practical features, and addressing copyright issues on international, European, and EU Member States levels, this highly illuminating work will strongly appeal to a wide ranging audience encompassing: academics, researchers and post-graduate law students in the area of international, European and comparative copyright law, in-house counsel legal practitioners, policymakers and government officials".
The team of national contributors is long and impressive. Looking at the list of names, reflecting so many skills and indeed nationalities, one cannot but think of the current Manchester City football squad in pursuit of success -- or the crew of the Pequod in pursuit of Moby Dick. The publisher states that the assembled authorities have provided "27 diverse and compelling narratives"; this reviewer respectfully submits that "diverse and/or compelling" might be a better description since some are compelling and some are diverse, while others again are both. It is difficult to achieve the sensation of true diversity when putting together a compilation in which, inevitably, the same provisions of the Directive just keep getting mentioned. However, diversity is there for the reader to behold if he is prepared to look for it: it is apparent that some of the contributors are more reverential  about the sacred task of implementation, while others have given their chapters a more sceptical flavour. Which authors display which characteristics? You have to read the book and see!

Bibliographic details: publisher: Edward Elgar Publishing. xlvi + 598 pages. Hardback. ISBN 978 1 84980 010 5. Price £140 (online price from the publisher's website £126). Web page here.

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