Friday, September 7, 2012

A Tale of Three Copyrights

I picked up an intriguing new book that arrived in the mail today. I couldn't wait to get started. I don't know about you but I start right from the front. The copyright made me stop dead in my tracks. I had never seen anything like this before.

Let's start with some earlier copyright notices to get us warmed up:

1) Cod by Mark Kurlansky (Penguin Books, 1997)

"All rights reserved.

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser."

Ok, so that's a little quirky.  Seems like they really don't want that book circulating outside the United States. Maybe they're afraid of the rest of the world learning our cod secrets.

2) Researching Your Colonial New England Ancestors by Patricia Law Hatcher (Ancestry, 2006)

"All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages for a review."

This is what I would term a "normal" copyright notice.

And now for the new book that just arrived:

3) Witchcraft Prosecution: Chasing the Devil in Connecticut by R.G. Tomlinson (Picton Press, 2012)

"All right reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means whatsoever, including, but not limited to, electronic, mechanical, magnetic recording, the Internet, or photocopying, without the prior written approval of the Copyright holder, excepting brief quotations for inclusion in book reviews."

The times they are a changing! This is the first time I have ever seen treatment of modern definitions of copying and transmission. They are certainly trying to be all encompassing by including electronic reproduction and the internet. I wonder if they have thought of everything or if there is already some new technology on the horizon that copyright holders need to be worried about.

Personally, I'm happy to see them defining these so specifically in the copyright notice. They are themselves becoming an historical record of our times.


  1. LOL...definitely getting up to date!!

    But let us know about the book. The title looks intriguing!!

  2. Denise - I will. I'll be devoting a whole hour to this book on Fieldstone Common in October..... :) Two lucky folks will be getting copies as well.

  3. Yes it does sound intriquing I'll be sure to tune in for that episode. As for the copyright got to give them credit for trying to stay on top of things. But I feel 6-12 months something will come along that doesn't fall under their umbrella.

  4. "No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages for a review."

    Except that all copyright notices like this are pretty much a lie, since they are excluding fair use. Fair use is NOT limited to a review. There are many other ways that fair use could allow copying of portions of the work, including a genealogy blogger who wanted to discuss how the book sheds light on her ancestry!

  5. This is probably a newbie question. Are Internet blogs and posted photos copyrighted, at all? A friend had her whole blog post copied, with photos, and the one who copied it just added and "intro" and made it his "own" blog post. Is there any way to prevent this from happening? I'm wondering whether the rise of technology will stiffen intellectual property laws or maybe erode them in time.

    1. By default, the material you post on your own blog is copyrighted by you. You can choose to use a more liberal license if you wish, e.g. a Creative Commons license, but otherwise no one is allowed to copy your material.

      Because the Internet makes copying so easy, your friend's situation is not unusual. Her best recourse is probably to write the site owner asking them to take down her material and to stop this behavior. However, it is likely that she will be ignored, so unless she wants to spend money to sue the offender, there isn't much that can be done.

  6. Maybe they should just say something simple like "this is my work, don't pinch it in any way". Would save having to think of multiple exclusion options :-)