The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.
Gustave Flaubert

Monday 2 May 2011

Private work

The Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 (and its predecessor statutes) requires a copy of every publication to be provided to the British Library and (if requested) to five other deposit libraries in the UK. The Draft Legal Deposit Libraries (Non-print Publications) Regulations 2011 were intended to bring the obligation up to date by extending it to other types of publication. The Regulations (which at the time of writing are being reconsidered by the government) would have required classes of such works to be deposited but included limited exceptions to the requirement to deposit certain works including sound recordings or films, and private works, a hitherto unknown category of works defined (in the singular) as:

... an electronic work which—
(i) is shared by means of the internet using some form of private network, for example,
an intranet; or
(ii) is a work which contains personal data and whose circulation is restricted to a
defined group of persons.

"Electronic work" is not defined, either in the draft Regulations or in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (which does however contain a definition of "electronic publication").

The draft regulations also provided that publishers could ask for an embargo against the public accessing these works at the relevant deposit library, if it could be shown that viewing by a reader would conflict with the normal exploitation of the work and unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the publisher. Although the 2003 Act has no inherent connection with copyright law, this might be a concept that finds its way into that world at some point, where it could serve a useful purpose.

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