Book Review: Non-Conventional Copyright–Do New and Atypical Works Deserve Protection?

Several times each month, we are pleased to republish a recent book review from the Canadian Law Library Review (CLLR). CLLR is the official journal of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL/ACBD), and its reviews cover both practice-oriented and academic publications related to the law.

Non-Conventional Copyright: Do New and Atypical Works Deserve Protection? Edited by Enrico Bonadio & Nicola Lucchi. Cheltenham, UK: Edgar Elgar, 2018. xiii, 500 p. Includes bibliographic references and index. ISBN 978-1-78643-406-7 (hardcover) $200.00 plus eBook.

Reviewed by Laura Lemmens, BA BEd MLIS
Information Literacy Librarian, Library and Open Information
Alberta Government Library – Capital Boulevard, Edmonton, Alberta
In CLLR 44:3

Non-Conventional Copyright: Do New and Atypical Works Deserve Protection? is a thoughtful and evocative discussion of what defines a work, who holds the right to the intellectual property of a work, and what legislation could or should enforce copyright permission for non-conventional works. Creators, litigators, and philosophers will expand their knowledge related to copyright protection based on the engaging analysis of the editors and 20 additional contributors.

Bonadio is a senior lecturer in intellectual property law at the University of London, and Lucchi is an associate law professor at Jönköping International Business School, Sweden. In addition to individually contributing chapters and co-authoring the introduction to the book, the authors have compiled a collection of exciting chapters on non-conventional copyright. The other 20 authors come from far and wide, including the U.K., Sweden, Canada, United States, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Australia, Ireland, and Hungary. The group provides a fresh and inventive look at the reasoning for copyright based on the last three centuries to the most current works being created.

Each of the 22 chapters include an introduction, a logical outlay of the concepts, and practice tips with analysis and a conclusion. The book focusses on United States, E.U., and U.K. law, with references to other common law jurisdictions. The editors start the analysis by setting the scene for non-conventional copyright and then move through groupings of media with related discussions. The first part, Art, includes chapters on land art, conceptual art, bio art, street art and graffiti, tattoos, and culinary presentations. Part 2 covers music and culture, including traditional music, music improvisation, DJ sets, modern comedic material, magic productions, and copyright of sport moves. The third part is Industry and Science and includes chapters on typeface copyright, online news, copyright and fragrances, copyright of CAD files and 3D printed works, engineered DNA sequences, and AI or computer generated works. Part 4 examines illegal works, copyright of pornography, and copyright of Nazi leaders’ works. The concluding chapters analyze the economic perspective of non-conventional copyright. The editors do not address Indigenous rights related to traditional music or knowledge.

This text is one of the few titles examining copyright for works in media, non-stagnant fixations, and data works created by ever-changing art, ideas, and technology. A somewhat similar title published in 2016, Global Governance of Intellectual Property in the 21st Century,[1] may provide limited analysis of copyright for non-conventional works, though the emphasis of that work is governance.

Non-Conventional Copyright: Do New and Atypical Works Deserve Protection? includes a table of contents, list of figures, list of contributors, foreword, and a limited index, with footnotes and references throughout. A table of cases, table of rules, and bibliography would have been welcome additions. This creative and philosophical text is full of examples of works that could, or should, fall within a more flexible interpretation of copyrighted works. It is an engaging read and provides plain-language analyses of new media, protection of new works, and what works should be protected. Librarians, novice lawyers, and even experienced lawyers will appreciate this text, and it is a must-have for any creator or an academic or intellectual property practice collection.

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