Book Review – Copyright: Critical Concepts in Intellectual Property Law

Copyright: Critical Concepts in Intellectual Property Law, edited by Christopher S. Yoo. Edward Elgar Publishing, 2011, 1,344 pages. Hardcover, 2 volumes, $720, ISBN 9781848447790.

Copyright: Critical Concepts in Intellectual Property Law is a collection of 21 copyright essays published between 1982-2009. Most were originally published as law journal articles, four from Yale Law Journal and individual articles from Harvard Law Review, New York University Law Review, Duke Law Journal, and other publications. Copyright contains no original material other than a short introduction and unfortunately has no index. The purchase price of this compilation is $720. For reasons of both content and price, this publication cannot be recommended.

In his excellent introduction, editor Christopher S. Yoo gives brief synopses of each selection and compares their themes. He has made interesting and thoughtful choices. Two of note are “Fair Use as Market Failure: A Structural and Economic Analysis of the Betamax Case and Its Predecessors,” 82 Colum. L. Rev. 1600 (cited in Harper & Row v. Nation Enterprises, 105S. Ct. 2218) and “Copyright, Compromise, and Legislative History,” 72 Cornell L. Rev. 857, an examination of the legislative history of the 1976 Copyright Act. Yoo also deliberately includes articles that have not received the attention he believes they deserve. He lists three pages of references for further study.

Volume I contains 10 articles and is divided into three sections. Part I discusses “The History of Copyright.” Part II consists of three articles discussing “Philosophical Foundations.” Part III contains two articles on “Democratic Theories.” Volume II consists of 11 articles, again divided into three sections. Part I is titled “Public Good Economics, Monopoly and Price Discrimination.” (In this section, the editor includes two articles he authored.) Part II is “Transaction Costs and the New Institutional Economics.” Part III focuses on “The Political Economy of Copyright.” 

As a law librarian, I am accustomed to exorbitant costs for research materials, but I am at a loss to understand how what is essentially repackaged and recycled content is worth $720. All except six articles were found for free by simply performing a Google search. Those remaining six articles could all be purchased electronically for a nominal charge. Of course, it is worth a certain price to have an editor make and introduce the selections in an anthology, but this set seems quite overpriced. Any law library with even a bare bones electronic subscription would likely already have access to a voluminous number of excellent articles about copyright. Unless you have an extravagant and unlimited library budget, your dollars would be better spent elsewhere.

Donna M. Fisher (dfisher@senniger.com) is law librarian at Senniger Powers LLP in St. Louis.

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