World Book and Copyright Day 23rd April

On the 23rd of April each year, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) celebrates World Book and Copyright Day.

Image of a world, books and the copyright symbol. Text says World Book and Copyright Day

The death anniversary of William Shakespeare, Miguel Cervantes and Inca Garciloso de la Vega as well as the birth or death of several prominent authors, was chosen in 1995 by UNESCO to become the World Book and Copyright Day. That date is 23rd April.

The day in itself is a celebration of everything relating to books but also to highlight the importance copyright has in the dissemination of some of our favourite reads.

Thanks to copyright, thousands of authors and publishers around the world can publish works that enrich society, through creativity, diversity and access to knowledge.

Copyright is an Intellectual Property (IP) right which allows the creator of an original work, certain economic rights as well as the right to modify, adapt, and disseminate the work. Copyright is automatic and in the UK it lasts for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years.

Copyright protects different categories of work, from literary, dramatic, artistic and musical works, films and sound recordings as well as broadcasts and typographical arrangement.

Books fall into the literary works spectrum. However, sometimes a book can have multiple types of works included.

Image showing different copyright components of text and duration of copyright protection

Using certain material from a book can sometimes become problematic. Multiple rights holders, means multiple people to request permission from. At times, a publisher might own the copyright and using the material in any way would mean that permission must be requested from publishers which also could mean paying a fee.

While copyright was created to protect creators and their original work, it has become a way for publishers to keep the power over the creations. Alexander Pope described it this way:

What Authors lose, their Booksellers have won,

So Pimps grow rich, while Gallants are undone.

While during Pope’s time, publishers indeed had a lot more power over authors, nowadays, with Open Access for publications, the authors can keep the copyright to their creations and share them widely for the enjoyment and use of the public.

Have a look below at the multiple resources available at Loughborough as well as the multitude of free resources, either because they have been published Open Access or because copyright expired, and they are now part of the public domain.

Loughborough University Catalogue

Authors, copyright, and publishing in the digital era / by Francina Cantatore, 2014

China’s creative industries copyright, social network markets and the business of culture in a digital age / Lucy Montgomery, 2010

Copyright versus open access on the organisation and international political economy of access to scientific knowledge / Marc Scheufen, 2015

E-publishing and digital libraries legal and organizational issues / edited by Ioannis Iglezakis, Tatiana-Eleni Synodinou, and Sarantos Kapidakis, 2010

Judiciary-friendly forensics of software copyright infringement / Vinod Polpaya Bhattathiripad, 2014

Piracy the intellectual property wars from Gutenberg to Gates / Adrian Johns, 2010

Publishing law Hugh Jones and Christopher Benson, 2014

Rethinking copyright history, theory, language / Ronan Deazley, 2006

The copyright wars three centuries of trans-Atlantic battle / Peter Baldwin, 2014

The digital rights movement the role of technology in subverting digital copyright / Hector Postigo, 2012

The EU Artificial Intelligence Act regulating subliminal AI systems / Rostam J. Neuwirth, 2022

The rhetoric of intellectual property copyright law and the regulation of digital culture / by Jessica Reyman, 2009

Wired shut copyright and the shape of digital culture / Tarleton Gillespie, 2007

Directory of Open Access Books

Copyright’s Broken Promise  – Willinsky, John (2022)

Copyright and Cartography  – Alexander, Isabella (2023)

Copyright, the Freedom of Expression and the Right to Information  – Mendis, Sunimal (2011)

The Copyright Pentalogy : How the Supreme Court of Canada Shook the Foundations of Canadian Copyright Law  – Michael Geist (2020)

The Digital Public Domain: Foundations for an Open Culture  – Dulong de Rosnay, Melanie; De Martin, Juan Carlos (2012)

The Greatest Films Never Seen: The Film Archive and the Copyright Smokescreen – Op den Kamp, Claudy (2017)

What if we could reimagine copyright – Giblin, Rebecca; Weatherall, Kimberlee (2017)

Whose Book Is it Anyway?: A View from Elsewhere on Publishing, Copyright and Creativity  – Jefferies, Janis (Editor); Kember, Sarah (Editor) (2019)

Project Gutenberg

Open Library

UCL Press

For more books on copyright, visit our World Book and Copyright Day stand in the University Library, level 3.

Image of two people sitting and reading with text in the middle saying World Book and Copyright Day 23rd April

Navigating copyright in the Digital Age

Have you ever found a nice image on the great, wide web and decided to download and use it? Have you ever come across an array of Creative Commons licenses and their meaning was daunting or confusing? Hopefully the next few paragraphs will help you navigate copyright in the digital age.

So, what exactly is copyright? Copyright is defined as an exclusive economic right granted to the creator of original work to permit or prevent other people from using it. In plain language, copyright is a right given to a creator (human creator) to use the work created in any way shape or form they wish. They can sell it, bequeath it, or decide to give their copyright up and make it available for anyone to use without restriction. You might come across items that are licensed as Creative Commons Zero, those are free to be re-used without issues.

You can also find items that are in the public domain, not to be confused with publicly available. Public domain items are works, where copyright has come to an end, and they can now be used by the public without fear of copyright infringement. However, do be careful. Certain items can have trademarks attached to them, so they work differently.

How do you navigate this mishmash of reusable, free and all rights reserved works that you can find on the web? Well, there are some handy questions to ask yourself:

Be aware that anything that says “fair use” does not apply in the UK. In the UK we use the term “fair dealing”.

The ‘fair dealing’ principle in the UK, is much more restrictive than the US ‘fair use’ principle. In simple terms, the question to ask yourself when applying the ‘fair dealing’ principle is how would a fair-minded person use this material? The below infographic should help with ‘fair dealing’ use.

More information on ‘fair dealing’ can be found in the Fair Dealing: A quick guide on our repository.

Licenses are very useful when it comes to knowing what can or cannot be done with copyright materials. So here is a quick overview of the different licenses:

  • All Rights Reserved (ARR): The most restrictive license, granting the copyright holder exclusive control over all aspects of the work’s use.
  • Creative Commons (CC) Licenses: A family of open-content licenses that provide a flexible approach to copyright management. CC licenses offer different levels of permission, from non-commercial use to commercial exploitation with attribution.
  • Software licenses: Legal instruments governing the use and redistribution of software.

You can find more information on licenses in our Licenses section on the Copyright webpages.

Important to remember is the fact that materials found online have the same protection as physical materials, like books or paintings. Before you save and re-use, make sure you know what you can or cannot do with the material and most importantly of all, make sure to credit the author. If you still struggle with licensing and re-use of digital material, get in touch with Loughborough University’s Copyright and Licensing Manager.