________________ CM . . . . Volume I Number I . . . . June 16, 1995

Canadian Copyright Law: Second Edition

Harris, Lesley Ellen.
McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1995
$22.99 (Cdn.)
ISBN 0-07-552547-X

Subject Heading:

Review by Neil A. Campbell

"Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject 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 or 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"

      Perceptive readers will recognize this as the copyright notice from the front of a Penguin paperback. When I was an undergraduate, I had seen this notice so many times, that I could recite it from memory. I had no idea what it meant, of course, and simply copied will-nilly like everyone else.

      Times have changed, and copyright has become a more serious concern. In this second edition of her work, first published in 1992, Lesley Harris tells us why copyright is no longer a dry, academic subject. First, the digitalization of information and the arrival of the "Information Superhighway" have pushed issues of intellectual ownership to the fore. Second, she feels that a new era in copyright has begun. Creators are now more aware of their rights, and more active in enforcing them. To which I add a third: a real concern in Canada to protect and foster our cultural identity, along with which goes a communal wish to see Canadian creators get a fair reward for their work so that they can stay in this country.

      Lesley Harris is eminently qualified to write on Canadian copyright law. She is an intellectual property lawyer and consultant, and former Senior Copyright Officer with the federal government. Her book is subtitled "the guide for writers, musicians, visual artists, filmmakers, publishers, editors, teachers, librarians, students, lawyers and business people." The stated purpose of the book is twofold. First, to demystify copyright law for the lay reader who is not legally trained. Second, to provide a handy reference guide, with listings of relevant addresses and contact numbers? as well as appendices containing a consolidated Copyright Act and other related legislation.

      This book is well crafted to serve the lay reader. It is structured logically to take the reader through the Copyright Act step by step. Each chapter is organized in textbook style: an introduction explaining the scope and contents of the chapter, followed by a detailed narrative in numbered sections, and a summary of the main points discussed in the explanatory sections.

      Legislation is simply not mentioned and then avoided; the author wades right into the statutes, and does a good job of clarifying their often abstruse language and structure. The author's prose is clear, fluid and jargon-free, delivered in an appropriate expository style. I like the inclusion of information about potentially helpful government departments and non-government organizations. However? I have found in the past that this kind of detail changes so frequently that it cannot be completely trusted.

      How well does this title stack up against similar works? Both Copinger and Skone James on Cop right, the classic English text, and Fox on The Canadian Law of Copyright and Industrial Design are too technical, intended for the legal community. As is Tamaro's annotated Copyright Act. The Harris book is the most comprehensive general guide to copyright law and issues presently available in Canada.

      Why a second edition so soon after the first? Ms. Harris tells us that a second edition was necessary due to changes in copyright law brought about by domestic pressure and to need to comply with international trade agreements. Two new chapters were added: "New Media, Electronic Rights, and the Information Superhighway" and "How Do You Obtain Copyright Protection in Other Countries." She does mention the imminent implementation of Phase II of copyright reform. It has been "imminent" for several years now, and Ms. Harris cannot be faulted for bringing out this work before any such changes are actually brought into force.

      This book should be essential reading and desk guide to any non-lawyer, and even to some lawyers, who regularly deal with copyright law in the course of their work.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © 1998 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364