A Copyright A-Z for World Book and Copyright Day 2015

Letters A and B next to copyright Icon

In order to mark World Book and Copyright Day, I have put together a topical A-Z celebrating key copyright-related events and issues over the last year, as well as a nod to some important movers and shakers in copyright.


Attribution remains a key requirement of Creative Commons Licences, apart from the Creative Commons Zero Licence. In 2014, Tate released 52,000 images of works in its archives under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial No Derivative Licence. 


The Berne Convention was the first international acknowledgement that robust and reciprocal recognition of copyright between different countries was an important requirement of legitimate international  trade. 

By April 2015, 168 countries had signed the Berne Convention as one of the core requirements of international trading. Signatory of the Berne Convention, requires each country to transpose key copyright principles into their own national laws, such as the automatic nature of copyright, the minimum duration of lifetime plus 50 years and a recognition of the need for limitations and exceptions to copyright. 


Creative Commons Licences were launched in 2002 to enable creators to share their creativity through standard easy-to-understand licence. By 2014, 882 Million items have been shared on the web under Creative Commons Licences.


Dickens, Charles 1812 - 1870

Charles Dickens was a novelist and an astute business man. During his heyday, the copyright in his novels would have been protected by a myriad of laws in the UK. However, internationally, copyright laws were piecemeal at best and non-existent for the most. This meant that his novels were often pirated abroad.

During one of his trips to the US, one of the countries that lacked copyright legislation, Dickens raised the issue of the lack of international copyright laws. As a result, he worked with other authors in order to present a petition to Congress. Although the US press was not particularly sympathetic to him, it is possible that the  Berne Convention ratified in the late 1880's would have been  influenced by his lobbying. 

Duffy, Maureen

Maureen Duffy is a novelist, poet and a political activist.  She was one of the founders of the Writers Action Group in 1972, which campaigned for the Public Lending Right (annual payments for authors based on the number of library loans of their printed books), until the law was passed in 1979.

She founded and is the president of the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society and has held senior positions for many years in the Writers' Guild of Great Britain, the British Copyright Council, the European Writers' Congress, (renamed European Writers Council in 2008) and the Royal Society of Literature. She represents the International Authors Forum at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (a branch of UNESCO). Via Wikipedia

Cory Doctorow

Cory is science fiction author and copyright activist. He believes that copyright laws should be liberalized to allow for free sharing of all digital media. He is an opponent of digital rights management.  Doctorow will be presenting at the forth coming CILIP Annual Conference in Liverpoollater this year.



In 2015, copyright is being played out on a European stage as an important component in the formation of a Digital Single Market.


Free Our History was a campaign led by CILIP and LACA from 2014-2015. It aimed to raise awareness and lobby UK Government to reduce the term of copyright protection in unpublished texts to the author's lifetime plus 70 years, from the end of the year 2039.

The campaign was supported by the Imperial War Museums, the National Library of Scotland and the University of Leeds Archives who each displayed an empty display case to raise the issue.

Although the Government u-turned on its promise to reduce the duration of copyright in unpublished text based works, in a direct response to the campaign, the Intellectual Property Office issued an important copyright notice clarifying that the display of text based works is  not a copyright infringement.      


Getty Images launched their embedding tool in 2014, facilitating access to over 50 million images for certain uses.


Hogarth, William 1697 - 1764

William Hogarth was a painter who was instrumental in lobbying parliament, together with other engravers to extend copyright laws in the UK. Although the UK had brought in the statute of Anne in 1709, this was very much about protecting the rights of publishers subsequent to the industrial revolution and first printing presses.

The Engraving Copyright Act 1734 or Engravers' Copyright Act (8 Geo.2 c.13) also called Hogarth's Act after William Hogarth, who prompted the law together with some fellow engravers. This Act was one of the Copyright Acts 1734 to 1888. This Act was repealed by sections 36 and 37(2) of, and schedule 2 to, the Copyright Act 1911 (c.46).


The Intellectual Property Office is the official government body responsible for intellectual property (IP) rights including patents, designs, trademarks and copyright. The IPO is an executive agency, sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills. In 2015, it re-launched its website, including brand new copyright pages.


Jumping through Hoops. 

The latest survey from the Publishing Licensing Society presented at the University of the Arts IP Conference in London on 21 April 2015 (via twitter #artsip) revealed that 35% of people abandoned rights clearance as too difficult.


Know the law and understand the role of your licences. In many organisations, despite the latest reforms to copyright laws in the UK, licences, such as those provided by the Copyright Licensing Agency, will take precedence in terms of copying activities. In 2015, the CLA enhanced its website to increase usability as well as enhanced searching.


The London Manifesto was launched by LACA (Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance) in London on 1 April 2015. It calls for reforms to: 

  • Improve the rights of disabled people by supporting equal access to knowledge.
  • Provide libraries with the right to lend digital materials and continue to underpin knowledgeable societies in the digital age.
  • Allow libraries and archives to better support research through modern data mining techniques.
  • Create a more manageable system of copyright exceptions across EU member states.

By the 23 April 2015, it has been signed by over 80 organisations and professional bodies from across the UK, Europe and Internationally.


Management of Copyright and Related Rights Directive was adopted by the EU in 2014.

"It aims at ensuring that rightholders have a say in the management of their rights and envisages a better functioning of collective management organisations as a result of EU-wide standards. The new rules will also ease the multi-territorial licensing by collective management organisations of authors' rights in musical works for online use. The Commission will work closely with the Member States to achieve a correct transposition of the provisions of the Directive into national law by the transposition date of 10 April 2016." More information on the website.


The Newspaper Licensing Agency morphed into NLA Media Access with an even closer working relationship with the Copyright Licensing Agency, who, from 2014, became the agent for NLA Media Access in schools and higher education  


Orphan Works can now be used in the UK under the Orphan Works Exception or the Orphan Works Licensing Scheme. Both were launched on the 29 October 2014 by the Intellectual Property Office, although the legitimacy of the licensing of potentially public domain works through the Orphan Works Licensing Scheme has been queried by LACA in a previous blog post. 


Preservation Copying is one of the newly extended copyright exceptions enshrined in UK law in June 2014, following the Hargreaves Review of IP. It enables museums, libraries and archives to make preservation copies of works in their collections.


Quotation is another important reform to copyright exceptions which was brought into UK copyright law in October 2014. It enables a Fair Dealing extract of a copyright work to be used to illustrate a point, as long as the amount used is proportionate to its use, the work has been made available to the public and the rights holder suitably acknowledged.


Reda, Julia

Julia Reda is an MEP, a member of the European Pirate Party and a proponent of copyright reform. "In November 2014, Reda was named rapporteur of the Parliament's review of 2001's Copyright Directive. Her draft report recommended the EU-wide harmonisation of copyright exceptions, a reduction in term length, broad exceptions for educational purposes and a strengthening of authors' negotiating position in relation to publishers, among other measures." via Wikipedia.


Samuelson, Pamela

Professor Pamela Samuelson is an academic author. She is amongst 250 US authors in the US who set up the Authors Alliance in 2014 to represent authors who do not write for profit and want the law to be changed in U.S. They have stated that copyright laws make it hard to access and share their work online and they are campaigning for a new Copyright Act which removes restrictions on citing, digitizing and sharing published works.

Via sfgate.com


Twain, Mark 1835 - 1910

Mark Twain was a novelist who both argued that all human speech was plagiarism as well as the need for copyright to provide an income for the children of authors.

"My copyrights produce to me annually a good deal more money than I have any use for. But those children of mine have use for that. I can take care of myself as long as I live. I know half a dozen trades, and I can invent a half a dozen more. I can get along. But I like the fifty years' extension, because that benefits my two daughter, who are not as competent to earn a living as I am, because I have carefully raised them as young ladies, who don't know anything and can't do anything. So I hope Congress will extend to them that charity which they have failed to get from me."

During that same period, Twain argued that "the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances-is plagiarism"

via techdirt.com


User, Copyright

Copyright User is a new website launched in February 2014. It is an independent online resource aimed at making UK Copyright Law accessible to creators, media professionals, entrepreneurs, students, and members of the public. It is maintained by the University of Bournemouth and Glasgow University, amongst others.


Worth, Jonathan

Jonathan Worth is a professional photographer, a lecturer, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Commerce and a National Teaching Fellow. He is a proponent of open content licensing


"X"ceptions. 2014 marked the year of copyright reform.

About World Book and Copyright Day

23 April was first proclaimed as World Book and Copyright Day by UNESCO in 1995. It is observed by millions of people in over 100 countries, in hundreds of voluntary organizations, schools, public bodies, professional groups and private businesses.




Image source: "Copyright ABC" by cilipmarketing, used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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