Copyrighting the future

Mayan Calendar - will end before the 2013 copyright begins!

Yesterday I catalogued a book with a copyright date of 2013 (its currently December 2011); I have been assured by people on Twitter that they have been receiving 2013 books for the last few months.  Now, firstly, this can be rather confusing to library users.  We quite often get requests asking us to correct the ‘wrong’ dates on books on the library catalogue, and we have to point out that actually the date isn’t wrong, and that we have to put the information that is on the book itself; so, no, we can’t just put this year’s date because its more convenient!

Secondly, what implication does this have for the actual copyright?  I am speaking in ignorance here (I admit!), but if the copyright doesn’t start until 2013, what are the rights before then?  Can a student merrily photocopy the whole book without reprisal?  I am guessing copyright law is more complicated than this, but would be interested in hearing what ‘future’ dates actually mean.

Why do publishers do this?  Why use dates that are over 12 months in the future for their books, is it supposed to make the book look more ‘new’ or ‘up-to-date’?  A few months difference wouldn’t be so bad, but 13, 14, 15, 16 months is getting ridiculous.

At the moment it just feels like one of those annoying ploys or gimmicks, much like when the supermarket rearranges its shelves in a bid to make you discover new things to buy, when actually you just end up stomping round the shop, frustrated because not only have they moved/hidden all the things you want to buy, but they’ve actually secretly reduced their range even further (especially when it comes to vegetarian or organic food!).  But that’s another rant altogether!

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1 Comment

Filed under Cataloguing, Librarianship

One response to “Copyrighting the future

  1. It could be counter-productive, too, for an academic text or anything to do with “events, dear boy, events” – e.g. a book about the Eurozone allegedly published in 2013 but making no mention of the events of autumn 2011 (because it actually came out before then) would surely lose authority and be open to negative criticism.

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