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Libraries & Culture 36.3 (2001) 473-475

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Book Reviews

Le Droit d'auteur et les bibliothèques

Le Droit d'auteur et les bibliothèques. Edited by Yves Alix. Paris: Éditions du Cercle de la Librairie, 2000. 237 pp. 210 F. ISBN 2-7654-0785-1.

This book was written as a group effort by French librarians and a lawyer to try and explain the legal rights and regulations surrounding copyright. Specifically, the authors [End Page 473] focus on explaining the rights of authors to librarians in the face of an explosion of new media formats. While this is an international phenomenon, it is in Europe where the greatest tests are being made of the law. With the move to a "borderless" Europe whose countries still use different copyright laws, what should librarians be looking at when they allow access to electronic collections and reproductive materials?

As M. Zylberstein, the lawyer, explains in the foreword, the law is complicated, and to most citizens it is a veritable secret. But it is a secret that must be revealed to librarians. They cannot keep their heads in the sand when it comes to copyright.

The book is divided into sections, each written by a specialist. It attempts to cover everything a librarian would need to know about copyright law in France, from a history of the law to an explanation of the rights of the individual and of institutional rights and regulations, including exceptions to the rule--who is protected, and who is not.

The book is complicated, and not just because of the subject matter, which is itself a dance of intricacy, but because in the short format of this book every chapter is filled with mind-boggling detail, and almost no examples or anecdotes are given to relieve the pressure.

The differences between intellectual property and material property, literary and artistic property, contract law and electronic media are laid out in relentless fashion.

The chapter on photoreproduction includes an interesting section on photocopillage by Henri Gay. This is a thorny subject, especially for universities, where course material often includes photocopied articles and sections of books, where entire books are at times photocopied and distributed by copy shops, and where a book that cannot be otherwise shared is parceled out in copies. What is the law in these instances? For editors, Gay says, it is a question of the rights of the authors, who are not recompensed. For librarians, it is a problem of loans: they don't control what happens to a book while it is on loan. Since 1976 France has had a 3 percent tax on all photocopier sales that goes to a national fund for books. How the money is redistributed is complicated, going to publishers, bookstores, libraries, and so forth in the form of subventions.

The law on lending and the very complicated world of electronic products, both audiovisual and Internet material, is of interest to all stakeholders in the world of information. This book clarifies French laws as well as the emerging European legal rights of authors and how these too affect librarians. The European Community is working on a law that would protect copyright across borders, unifying and, one hopes, clarifying the laws throughout the Continent. Specific legal instruments created by the Community include two "green books" (livres verts): Livre vert sur le droit d'auteur et le défi technologique (Green book on the rights of authors and the challenge of technology), released in 1988, and Livre vert sur le droit d'auteur et les droits voisins dans la société de l'information (Green book on the rights of authors and neighboring rights in an information society), published in 1995. These are attempts not just to unify copyright laws but to update them to include the rights of software writers and Internet publishers by outlining intellectual property rights in an electronic world. A third green book, on piracy and counterfeit materials (Livre vert sur la lutte contre la contrefacon et la piraterie dans le marché intérieur), is being constructed under a barrage...


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