|Literary Law Guide for Authors: Copyright, Trademark, and Contracts in Plain Language|
|author||Tonya Marie Evans and Susan Borden Evans|
|summary||A practical guide to copyright and trademark law|
The content of the book really is as the title claims. It is a practical explanation of legal concepts, written by practicing lawyers. It is not a theoretical exploration, it is not a detailed history, and it is most definitely not criticism. The primary audience is writers who want a good understanding of the law before getting involved with the publishing industry or attempting to self-publish. The writing itself is beautifully concise and precise. Given the topic, there are passages that require long lists of examples and distinctions to maintain accuracy. If you have never encountered thorough legal writing before, it can be a bit daunting.
Literary Law Guide begins by explaining copyright in great depth. In this book, that only means 10 pages. But the table of contents for that section alone lists the following:
- Protecting Ideas
- When Copyright Ownership Begins
- Showing the World That You Own Your Work
- What a Copyright Owner Has the Right to Do
- Scope of Copyright Protection
- The Elements of Copyrightable Works
- Copyright Registration
- How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work
- Where to Search for Information about Registered Copyrights
- Transfer of Copyright
- Reclaiming Your Copyright After Transfer
That's only the first half of the book's text. Trademark gets the next 30 pages. Once again the authors provide thorough explanations of concepts and actual legal procedures. The final section is on contracts. Given the book's nature, it's really about publishing contracts for writers, but the information is still useful.
The book includes a CD with a handful of Copyright and Trademark Office forms in PDF and Word files of sample publishing contracts. These materials are also printed over 90 pages in the book itself. With the exception of the contracts, this is fairly superfluous. The forms are all readily available online.
Overall, Literary Law Guide has value for several segments of the Slashdot readership. Programmers, especially those working independently, can gain invaluable information on the available means for protecting or profiting from their work. Those interested in Free content (not just software) can better understand issues surrounding licensing and the public domain. Everyone who reads the book will have a better understanding of the issues we spend so much time discussing.
Perhaps because it is targeted towards the world of traditional writing, Literary Law Guide may leave a Slashdot reader unsatisfied at the coverage of digital-age issues. However, I think the fault for that really lies with a legal structure that is, as we all know, far behind the times. A book on the law can only cover what law there is. As the authors put it, in what may be the greatest understatement on this issue I've seen:
In light of this twenty-first century reality, some scholars believe that the law lags far behind in closing the gap between yesterday's statutes and tomorrow's technology.
The final recommendation: if you want to know more about copyright and trademark than you'll easily discover using Google, this book is for you.
You can purchase Literary Law Guide for Authors: Copyright, Trademark, and Contracts in Plain Language from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.