Flash! Collated by British Library: Is copyright a help or hindrance?

Flash! Collated by British Library: Is copyright a help or hindrance?

The British Library is a venerable institution, but it is also cutting edge in looking at the digital world.

Today, they sent out an important document.  They are careful to say that they didn’t write it, but they did collate it and it does have their name on it.

It’s a collection of essays from researchers, looking at the issue of British copyright.

Bottom line: should it be changed? 

There are key issues here, some that we also have to consider in the US.

I do think we’ll see some revisions in US copyright, and in worldwide copyright.  One issue is that of “orphan works”.  Those are books (and other works) that are still under copyright, but have no one to speak for them.  We have many books in the US that are in a 95-year copyright term.  If could be that the author has died without descendants.  In that case, the book could not be made into an e-book (for example) until that term expired.  You have to negotiate those rights with the rightsholders, and in that case, there is no one with whom to negotiate.

Our system is quite complicated compared to other countries.  For some titles, you have to look at whether it was published with an appropriate copyright notice, whether it was renewed properly, and so on.  I think we may see that simplified at some point by forgiving display and renewal issues…but requiring publication to avoid orphan work status.

We should be looking at those issues here, in the US, as the digital world transforms publishing and intellectual property rights.

In England, they are seriously examining the issues…which may enable them to lead in this rapidly changing area.

Driving UK Research (pdf)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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