Yesterday's posting reviewed Ronan Deazley's masterful "Rethinking Copyright" book. Readers were dismayed at the $95 price, as am I, although i love the book itself. Today, I want to review two other recent releases, both of which are quite worth having and at much better prices.
Foundation Press has a delightful series of "law stories." Each book in the series contains an article about well-known cases in the field, and gives a type of behind the scenes look at the personalities behind the disputes. The most recent, is "Intellectual Property Stories." (Although the title gives a date of 2005, it is a 2006 release). It is priced extremely reasonably at $19.95. The organization of the book, choices of cases, and editing may not be everyone's cup of tea; I also found the introduction to be a bit pompous and of no real help, but it is easily skipped.
In a book of this sort, there are a number of shoals to navigate which I think many of the authors did admirably: one doesn't want the discussion to be simply war stories; the details should illuminate something, or failing that, be amusing. One should also learn things one can't get from other sources; on this front, not all of the stories succeed. For example, the background story of the Sony case has been told before, especially by Jonathan Band and Andrew McLaughlin, as have a number of the details in Folsom v. Marsh. But perhaps not everyone has read these previous sources; still, there are areas where one would have wished for different stories that have yet to be told.
For example, even though there is a section on the scope on protection, there are only two cases, in the copyright area Folsom, which is hardly the most interesting or illuminating case. Why not have had something that deals with substantial similarity such as the George Harrison case, which had color aplenty, or the Sid & Marty Krofft case? The book is heavily oriented toward oldy-moldies, but even here discussions have been truncated. For example, Professor Craig Joyce's piece on Wheaton v. Peters should have gone first, and has been so severely edited that its wonderful flavor has been all but eliminated. (Those who wish to see the original, unedited version can find it at 42 Houston Law Review 325). On the international front, an important area, we have only Steele v. Bullova, and no copyright cases. Why not Quality King or some of the Ninth Circuit cases?
It is of course the nature of any selection that they reflect the personal interests of the editors (that is also of course one of the bases of protection for compilations), and for $19.95 one can't go wrong.
The other book is the second edition of John Feather's "A History of British Publishing." At $29.95 is a fantastic bargain, rich with amazing original research, by a UK scholar of the highest order. This is a classic in the area, with a great deal of important discussion about copyrght; a must have book.