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  • Demystifying Copyright: A Researcher’s Guide to Copyright in Canadian Libraries and Archives, 2nd ed. by Jean Dryden
  • Heather Martin
Demystifying Copyright: A Researcher’s Guide to Copyright in Canadian Libraries and Archives, 2nd ed. Jean Dryden. Ottawa: Canadian Library Association, 2014. 84 pp. ISBN 978-0-88802-340-7.

Thirteen years have passed since the publication of the first edition of Jean Dryden’s Demystifying Copyright: A Researcher’s Guide to Copyright in Canadian Libraries and Archives. In the world of copyright, particularly in the Canadian context, that seems like a lifetime. Not only have the years between editions seen significant amendments to the Copyright Act and an unprecedented number of Supreme Court decisions affecting copyright, they have also been a time of rapid technological change that has stretched and [End Page 163] challenged our notions of what copyright is and what it is not. These changes have also ushered in a generation of citizens who are more aware of intellectual property issues than their predecessors. For anyone who works in a library or archives, this means that the need to continually update one’s copyright knowledge is more critical and difficult than ever. Fortunately, the second edition of Demystifying Copyright, long awaited by those who were avid users of the first edition, will make it easy for both librarians and archivists to understand copyright in its current context, as well as to provide guidance to the researchers they serve.

The author, Jean Dryden, is well known for her expertise in the realm of copyright and its impact on archival practice. She has extensive archival and records management experience and has taught at the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies as well as at the University of Toronto’s iSchool. In addition to providing consulting services on a wide range of issues, including copyright, records management, and information law and policy, she has written extensively on these topics.

In the updated edition of Demystifying Copyright, Dryden has once again set out to educate readers about Canadian copyright regulations as well as provide them with the tools for determining how information can be copied and used. Recognizing that copyright can be both confusing and intimidating, she deconstructs the key components of Canada’s Copyright Act and sets them out in a logical, understandable progression. Her goal, as the title suggests, is to “demystify” copyright for her readers and, by cutting through the complexity, to dispel the notion that it is “something to be feared” (p. 2). But copyright, by its very nature, does not lend itself to such a straightforward presentation – there are general rules, but then there are numerous limitations and exceptions to those rules that cannot be ignored. Demystifying Copyright manages to capture the essential detail while keeping the format simple and concise. Dryden writes in plain language, using laymen’s terms and providing examples to illustrate some of the more complex concepts. She makes no assumptions about what the reader might already know and addresses possible misconceptions (see, for example, the section on “What Copyright Is Not,” p. 6). She has also opted not to include references to primary sources such as statutes or relevant case law. While library and archives staff who are already familiar with the Copyright Act may find this frustrating at times, there is no doubt that without statutes or case law, this guide is more user-friendly and accessible.

While there are other books that seek to simplify and make sense of copyright in the Canadian context, Demystifying Copyright is unique in its systematic approach and its focus on the facts with a minimum of commentary or analysis. It has also been written with a target audience in mind: researchers using Canadian libraries and archives. This is critical to understanding the choices Dryden has made about what information to include and what to leave out. While she acknowledges that the book will be helpful to librarians [End Page 164] and archivists when they are fielding questions from their users, she makes clear that “it is not intended to provide detailed advice on the administration of copyright matters in a library or archives” (p. 3). It does not, for...


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