Tuesday 28 July 2015

International Copyright Law: text and cases reviewed

International Copyright Law: U.S. and E.U. Perspectives Texts and Cases is the title of a handsome tome compiled by Jane C. Ginsburg (Morton L. Janklow Professor of Literary and Artistic Property Law, Columbia University, School of Law, New York) US and Edouard Treppoz (Professor, University Jean Moulin Lyon 3, France), published by Edward Elgar Publishing a little earlier this year.

According to the publisher's web-blurb:
International copyright law is a complex and evolving field, of manifest and increasing economic significance. Its intellectual challenges derive from the interlocking relationships of multiple international instruments and national or regional laws and judgments.

This ground-breaking casebook provides a comprehensive and comprehensible account of international copyright and neighbouring rights law, from the cornerstone of the 1886 Berne Convention and the Rome Convention of 1961, through to the 1994 TRIPS Agreement and the 1996 and later WIPO Copyright Treaties. It examines how national laws have implemented the international norms, and explores the issues these sources have left ambiguous or unresolved.

Ginsburg and Treppoz, two of the leading lights in international copyright law, bring their expert commentary and provocative questions to judiciously selected extracts from cases, analytical texts, and the texts of the treaties themselves, to develop a deeply nuanced understanding of this field. The approach centres on comprehending the international law and international treaties and, rather than analyzing the treaties in turn and in abstract, offers a concrete issue-by-issue treatment of the subject.
The authors focus principally on WIPO-administered treaties and TRIPS for their international material, thus leaving the Universal Copyright Convention out in the cold -- which is where it is. Included however is the little-known Austro-Sardinian Convention of 1840. The chapters adopt a methodology of addressing first the international source materials, then focusing on relevant provisions of US and European Union law, making allowances where necessary for the fact that there is not always a one-to-one correspondence between the materials contrasted. The authors also supply questions that demand a fairly acute understanding by readers of the issues highlighted in the primary materials (asking for example why a party should wish to bring proceedings in one jurisdiction rather than another). The contents are highly current and include, for example, the 22 January ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Case C-419/13 Art & Allposters.

This blogger has never studied or taught international copyright law, either on its own or as a medium for a comparative study of US and EU approaches, though the subject is one that he has encountered on a one-off basis, leaving him with that uncomfortable feeling of having been slightly ambushed, on more times than he cares to recall. This book looks like just the thing he could have done with -- not merely for the content but for the direction of the questions posed.

The paperback version is a pretty hefty volume at xxviii + 849 pages. It's a good deal cheaper than the hardback (full price £45 as against £155 -- would you pay more than £100 for hard covers? -- and available with the publisher's online discount at £36 as against £139.50). The respective hard and soft soft cover ISBNs are 978 1 78347 797 5 and 978 1 78347 799 9. The book's web-page is here.

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