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The Copyright Permission and Libel Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers 1st Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471146544
ISBN-10: 0471146544
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Any writer or editor not concerned about copyright and libel ought to be. While the laws governing copyright are more straightforward than those regarding libel, disregarding either can land a writer or publication in a lot of hot water. Very hot. While the authors of The Copyright Permission and Libel Handbook state outright that their guide should not take the place of an attorney, they explain copyright and libel issues in great detail, so that, at the very least, you'll know when to be on the alert. Copyright is relatively simple. "If you intend to use someone's copyrighted work," say Jassin and Schechter, "unless the use is considered a fair use, you must obtain that person's written permission." Of course, "fair use" gets tricky. One court determined that the Moral Majority's reproduction of a full ad from Hustler magazine was a fair use, while another ruled that The Nation's reproduction of 300 words from President Ford's 20,000-word unpublished memoirs was not.

Libel is more complicated. Each state (and the District of Columbia) has its own libel laws. And, no, fiction is not exempt, even if you've changed the name and hair color of an otherwise identifiable person. "The best defense to libel," say the authors, "is verifiable truth." Included: detailed checklists--concerning fair use, copyright protection, copyright permission, libel, and "media perils" insurance--and sample forms for requesting permissions, obtaining releases, summarizing permissions, and writing libel disclaimers. --Jane Steinberg

From Booklist

This manual allays a fear among publishing, broadcast, and film folk: getting sued. Copyright infringement is a manageable risk, if one understands the fair use doctrine and the procedures for acquiring and buying the right to reproduce material others have created. Both authors are lawyers, with book publishing experience in Jassin's case, which inform their practical tips about permissions. Often one needn't even request permission (advice endorsed by this former permissions clerk, whose favorite office appliance was the "fair use" rubber stamp), because such material can be classified as falling within public domain laws by comparing copyright dates with the two copyright acts (of 1909 and 1976) that govern them. But in doubt one should obtain permission, for which this book provides sample letters and addresses. Libel is a more dangerous animal, as can be attested by anyone threatened with a defamation suit. The authors define the legal nuances of libel and urge using care and caution when writing about public figures--and calling a lawyer when a nasty letter arrives. Gilbert Taylor
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (February 4, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471146544
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471146544
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dan Poynter VINE VOICE on October 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
(From my book Successful Nonfiction: Tips and Techniques for Getting Published)
1. How can I guard against others stealing my writing?
Relax. The moment you create a written Work, it is automatically copyrighted under Common Law. Once the book is published, you may send two copies to the Copyright Office with the two-page Form TX and $30 to register or perfect your copyright.
Some (new) authors copyright their manuscript. Later, when they turn it into a book, they print the original copyright date. This makes the book appear to be old, and that hurts sales.
Most authors wait and send the finished book to the Copyright Office for registration....
A registered copyright only gains the author some extra rights. The difference is between copyright and registered copyright, not between not copyrighted and copyrighted. Copyright occurs automatically with creation-when you initially write it.
Publishers rarely steal manuscripts. They are in the publishing business not the writing business. Manuscripts are cheap and publishers do not even have to pay the authors until months after the books are sold. There is little incentive to rip you off.
"The instinct of ownership is fundamental in man's nature." -William James (1842-1910), American philosopher and psychologist.
2. How much may I borrow from others?
Borrow ideas, borrow facts, but do not steal words. Copyright covers the author's presentation or expression-a sequence or pattern of words. It does not protect ideas. If you read and blend the ideas of other authors and put the collective thought into your own words, that is perfectly legal. This is how most nonfiction books are written-from research.
Do not repeat any of the research materials word-for-word.
Read more ›
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Presents clear, lucid overview of the many trickly and, potentially toublesome, legal issues in using another's copyrighted work. The libel discussion is equally clear and lucid. Quesion and answer format is a plus.Contains no legalize as it written expressly for nonlawyer. Highly recommmended for both publishers and writers.
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Format: Paperback
While preparing to publish my second book (with number 3 on the way) I realized I needed some basic information about publishing and libel law. I found a copy of this book in the reference section of the law library at my university. The sections on libel were concise and to the point. I have not compared the book to other sources, but found it was very clear on the issues of importance to me. I've decided to order a copy to keep for reference, and I think it would be useful to most writers.
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This handbook provides a comprehensive overview and useful explanations of copyright, fair use, permission releases, and libel. It's well-organized and easy to read. Helpful summary checklists are provided at the end of key chapters. The book is a good resource for authors to have in their reference collections. It's a bargain--reasonably priced and loaded with relevant information.
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Written by two attorneys, this book is instructive on copyright and libel. It's organized in a outline form, which makes these legal topics easy to read. I did not give it five stars, however, because the book was written in 1998. A second edition of the book that discusses Internet and blog writing would be helpful. Nevertheless, I am satisfied with the book and recommend it to others.
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The lucid explanations of every aspect of a subject that confounds many make this book an indispensable tool for publishing professionals, writers and students. Loaded with practical help and thoughtful commentary
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Probably the most straightforward book about copyright law, permissions and libel. Compared to the other textbooks I've had on copyright law, this one broke everything down in simple language and had example templates in the back on communication and jargon. The "tip" boxes in every section also made the content more digestible and understanding.
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My husband and I have a small publishing company. We received our copy of this book recently and have already turned to it when we have had a question about permissions. I have skimmed the chapters and know that it will be a useful book for us to have on our shelf. I found the recommendation from blogger, Janet Grant at her Books and Such blog. She is a literary agent and I trust her judgement. I recommend it, too.
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