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Archive for August, 2014

Unpublished Works and 2039

Chris JHolland21 August 2014

 Unpublished works pose particular problems, especially for archives. A quirk of copyright law means that many of these works, including some very old documents are in copyright until 2039.

Before the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 came into force on 1st August 1989 the situation was even more restrictive. Some unpublished works enjoyed perpetual copyright. The CDPA redefined the duration of copyright for those works to 50 years after the new Act came into force, in other words the end of 2039.

Among the works affected are previously unpublished works of known authorship created before 1st August 1989, (except pre June 1957 photographs), in all cases where the author died before 1969. The letters of a prominent scientist, written prior to 1989 and never published would be in copyright until 2039.

It follows that if we wish to reproduce any of those letters, we need permission from the copyright holder, who could for example be a descendant of the author. This situation affects the use of extensive material held by the National Archives and similarly restrictive rules apply to some unpublished material which is Crown Copyright.

Could there be change on the horizon? The Government has given itself powers via the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 to amend this particular quirk of copyright duration. The result will be that some unpublished copyright works will move into the public domain while others will have a shorter term. We await the Statutory Instruments needed to implement the changes.

 

 

Inter Library Loans and articles from e-journals

Chris JHolland12 August 2014

One of the less obvious changes in the copyright exceptions introduced in June is the exception in Section 41 of the CDPA 1988 which enables us to supply another library (any library which is not conducted for profit) upon request with part or the whole of a published work, without infringing copyright.  

The main condition is that the librarian does not know and could not reasonably find out the name and address of the person able to give copyright permission.

Of course this condition would rule out supplying a copy of most recently published works under this exception, as there would be little difficulty in finding out whom to contact for permission.

However journal articles are treated as a special case by Section 41 and are not subject to that condition. If we receive a request from another library for a copy of one article from a journal then we are able to supply that copy without applying that test or requesting permission from the publisher. We may choose to charge for this service or not, but if we do the amount must be calculated by reference to the costs incurred in making the copy.

When you add to this the fact that Section 41 covers copyright works in any format then it follows that we could supply a single article from an e-journal which we subscribe to. As with many of the new exceptions, this cannot be over-ridden by the terms of our licence with the supplier so we would not need to refer to the licence before providing a copy.

Monkey Business and EU Copyright Law

Chris JHolland7 August 2014

The story of the copyright disagreement between the wildlife photographer and Wikipedia about the famous “monkey selfie”( See here for the BBC’s coverage ) sheds an interesting light on  the minimum requirements for copyright to subsist in a photograph under EU law.

This was discussed in the recent case before the European Court of Justice of Painer v. Standard Verlags GmbH (C-145/10). The photograph must be “…an intellectual creation of the author reflecting his/her personality and expressing his/her free and creative choices in the production of that photograph”.

Perhaps one could argue that leaving the camera where the macaque could get its hands on it demonstrates a “free and creative choice”, but on the face of it the photographer’s case that he can claim copyright does not seem that strong.

There is another way of looking at it: if the photographer had taken the photographs himself, then he could certainly claim copyright and would not suffer any loss of income from the reuse of the photographs.  On the other hand, the value of the increased publicity for his work which has come about because of the role played by the macaque could be priceless.

Film Clubs

Chris JHolland1 August 2014

Once in a while a group of UCL students and/ or staff suggests starting a film club. Films could be shown on the premises, free of charge to people who choose to join the club, perhaps films with a departmental interest or popular feature films.

Great idea, but first there are the copyright and licensing hurdles. Among the acts restricted by copyright is the performance of works, including film, without permission of the copyright owners.

There is an exception for showing film for “the purposes of instruction” in Section 34 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. This would not cover showing a film for entertainment or any other purpose outside the teaching context. It is clear that a film club would not be covered.

There is a licensing solution, the Public Video Screening Licence (PVSL) from Filmbank . As cost is based on numbers of people “with access to the licensed premises”, it would not be practical to obtain a UCL wide licence, but individual departments could and sometimes do apply. Filmbank can also licence one-off showings. You may also need a licence from PRS to cover playing the musical soundtracks.

The repertoire licensed by Filmbank covers a range of major film studios, listed on their web site. Many well known feature films would be covered. If your interests are more specialised Filmbank may not be very relevant. If the films are outside the repertoire you will be infringing copyright  even armed with your Filmbank licence. It may come down to seeking permission for each film.