Magazine article Information Today

Staying Legal: How to Stay on Top of Copyright Issues

Magazine article Information Today

Staying Legal: How to Stay on Top of Copyright Issues

Article excerpt

Staying Legal: How to Stay on Top of Copyright Issues The Complete Copyright Liability Handbook for Librarians and Educators by Tomas A. Lipinski New York, N.Y.: Neal-Schuman, 2006 ISBN: 1-55570-532-4 411 pages $125, softcover

Copyright is a sticky area that gets more complicated all the time. Just when you think your library is working carefully and legally, either the law changes or some new technology emerges to skirt the edges of legitimacy.

As information professionals, we need to understand copyright laws and how they apply to our work. We also need to know how we (and our institutions) may be affected by lawsuits on copyright issues and how we can limit our liability in these cases. If you have a basic understanding of copyright but want to know more, Tomas Lipinski's new book on copyright liability is a great resource.

Lipinski, who is a lawyer and legal scholar, specializes in information law and policy. He is currently co-director of the Center for Information Policy Research at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as well as a visiting associate professor at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of IllinoisUrbana-Champaign. Since he has written several books and articles on copyright and information law for educators and librarians, he is well qualified to explore the ramifications of current copyright law.

In the preface to The Complete Copyright Liability Handbook for Librarians and Educators, Lipinski notes that this book is not designed to be an introduction to copyright law. He assumes that readers have a working knowledge of copyright or will use other sources for background information. Since this book focuses on institutional and personal liability issues and the damages that may be incurred, we need to know what copyright law requires and how to promote "copyright awareness." Lipinski's book is designed to help us "understand the practical relationship between the law and its application in the practical library or education setting." This is not a book for lawyers; it tries to help the rest of us understand the legal issues surrounding copyright liability, reviewing "those provisions of the copyright law that require the library of [an] educational institution ... to do 'something.'"

The Nature of Infringement

The main text of The Complete Copyright Liability Handbook for Librarians and Educators is divided into four sections. The first section, titled Three Types of Copyright Liability, covers the nuances of copyright infringement and how you may be liable for each. It includes three main categories of infringement: direct, contributory, and vicarious. The detailed descriptions about the ways the library or educational institution can be liable (along with paying damages) if students or patrons violate copyright are especially interesting. …

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