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Reviewed by:
  • The Complete Copyright Liability Handbook for Librarians and Educators
  • Heather A. Runyan
The Complete Copyright Liability Handbook for Librarians and Educators, Thomas A. Lipinski . New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2006. 413p. $125 (ISBN 1-55570-532-4)

Copyright law can be difficult and confusing, particularly for non-lawyers. The Complete Copyright Liability Handbook For Librarians and Educators offers assistance to librarians and educators in not only understanding copyright law as it relates to librarians and educators but also in assessing risk, specifically whether an institution's potential for copyright liability warrants the implementation of certain copyright measures in an attempt to ensure educational "fair use" and "safe harbor." The author, Thomas A. Lipinski, is an associate professor and the co-director of the Center for Information Policy Research at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. He has a Juris Doctor, a Master of Laws, and holds a PhD from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and often speaks about information law, policy, and copyright.

This should not be the reader's first book about copyright, as the author assumes at the outset that the reader has some familiarity with copyright law. The work's value comes from the detailed explanations of the potential benefits of complying with copyright provisions, such as section 512 of the Copyright Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Compliance benefits include potential institutional immunity from copyright liability or a potential limitation on the damages a plaintiff is able to recover from an institution. In order to receive such benefits, an institution must take certain steps or make "compliance efforts." Throughout this book, these compliance efforts are thoroughly explained, along with analyses of whether the risk of copyright liability justifies the time and expense of making such efforts.

The author opens with a prefatory glossary of terms and proceeds to thoroughly describe the types of copyright liability as well as the penalties and immunities in copyright law relating to libraries and schools. The author continues with the impact of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act on libraries and schools and the ways such institutions can limit their exposure. A summary of key points punctuates each of the 13 chapters, which can be particularly helpful when one begins to feel bogged [End Page 471] down by the detailed legal explanations and case law within some of the chapters. This detail, however, is important for gaining a complete understanding of how the legal concepts and case law affect the risk assessment that institutions must perform when deciding whether to implement copyright compliance efforts.

Additionally, each chapter contains real world examples. Although every copyright situation the reader encounters at his or her respective institution will be unique, the examples in this book bring the necessary personalization of the information to the reader. One is left with an understanding of how the copyright provisions will likely relate to one's own institution.

Perhaps the most helpful aspect of the book is the inclusion of compliance tools for schools and libraries. Part V of the book includes a copyright compliance audit, an implementation checklist for section 512 registered agents, and 16 sample copyright policies. The reader is free to use or adapt any of these tools, provided proper credit is given to the author and publisher of the book. This book is an excellent reference tool for any library or educational institution concerned about copyright compliance.

Heather A. Runyan
Oglethorpe University


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pp. 471-472
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