Book Review: Copyright for Archivists and Records Managers by Tim Padfield.

Book title: Copyright for Archivists and Records Managers, Sixth Edition|Author: Tim Padfield Published date: October 2019 | Pages: 411pp Style available: Paperback & Ebook
ISBN: 9781783304486 | Price: £59.95  | CILIP members price: £47.95

I recently had the opportunity to review Tim Padfield’s book “Copyright for Archivists and Records Managers” by Facet PublishingFacet Publishing is well-known within the information management community. It has published many of the books that I have read as part of professional development.  You can see a list of the books here.

For the avoidance of any doubt, this book is about the UK’s Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988.

Tim and his Copyright publishing history

The first edition of Copyright for Archivists and Records Managers was originally published in 2001. The book has subsequently reissued in 2004, 2007, 2010, 2015 and 2019. It is the 2019 version that I have reviewed in this blog. There has been a 4-5 year gap between previous updates. I expect we will be seeing the seventh edition in 2023/2024 – although this may happen earlier due to Brexit and the transition leading to changes in the law. 

I asked Pete Baker at Facet Publishing about the likelihood of a new edition being published ahead of schedule. His comments were:

Copyright for Archivists and Records Managers - Email from Pete Baker, Head of Publishing for Facet - "Hi Emily, nice to hear form you. This is certainly something I will pick up with the author and review when a new edition will be appropriate. We do of course need to leave some time between revisions but not necessarily 5 years. We will also consider other ways we can provide an updates to readers in the interim. All the best, Pete"


Tim worked at the National Archives for over 30 years. Although Tim retired in 2013, he continually updates this book, the ‘Copyright Bible’. Calling it the Copyright Bible is no overstatement. Copyright for Archivists and Records Managers is the book information professionals reach for to understand how copyright applies to a collection of records.

When Tim announced he was retiring, there was great disturbance amongst the Force:

Screen shot of a tweet "Gary Brannan @gbrannanarchive - 'I felt a great disturbance, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.' NRA, just now."
The ever-brilliant @stefarchivist showed me this tweet – thanks Stef.

“Copyright Bible”

The name Copyright Bible is an extension of Tim Padfield’s nickname”God of Copyright”. I saw Tim back in 2015 when he was speaking at The University of Dundee. As a new Masters student, this was incredibly exciting, as I’d been aware of Tim and his work for over a decade. That was my first meeting and I most definitely was fangirling! My classmates didn’t understand why, as they were all new to the profession and weren’t yet familiar with his work.  Tim isn’t someone you see out and about very often, I guess that’s what they mean by retirement.  if you see him let me know because I do like getting my books signed by the author!

Book Background

As an archivist or records manager it is essential to be familiar with the complexities of copyright legislation.  Copyright for Archivists and Records Managers has been described as an ‘unparalleled’ resource for that purpose.

  • What is copyright?
  • Who owns it and for how long?
  • What rights does it confer?
  • What are the limitations and exceptions?

This book outlines copyright law in the UK with special reference to the unpublished materials commonly found in archive and records collections.  It covers maps, legal records, records of local authorities and parish registers. You’ll also find comprehensive information on authorship and duration of copyright, and on the wide range of exceptions and limitations to copyright. There’s advice on rights in the electronic environment, moral rights, rights in databases, and extensive tables of duration of copyright in other countries. Overall this is a unique and comprehensive manual.

This is the sixth edition and it’s been extensively revised. Particularly noteworthy updates include

  • A revision of the commentaries on the nature of originality in literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and of a substantial part of a copyright work
  • An updated explanation of how a work of overseas origin qualifies for copyright protection in the UK, to reflect changes to the legislation
  • A revision of the commentaries on publication, issue of copies to the public and communication to the public
  • A more detailed explanation of the exceptions for quotation, text and data mining, disability, rental and lending, education, broadcasts, access to digital material on the premises and the publication of older unpublished works
  • Updated charts detailing the duration of copyright where countries have amended their legislation


The contents of Copyright for Archivists and Records Managers covers everything you need to know:

  • What is copyright?
  • Copyright protection
  • Ownership
  • Publication
  • Exhibition and performance use
  • Copyright in the electronic environment,
  • Special cases
  • Other Intellectual Property rights,

There is also an appendix with charts and tables outlining the duration of copyright and how to declare your copyright, model licences and model assignments. Lastly, there is a comprehensive bibliography and list of authorities.


This book will be useful reading for all archivists and records managers. LIS professionals in libraries, museums and galleries, students, researchers and genealogists will also benefit from it.

It’s always useful to know what has been updated in a book. As you’d expect from someone in the archives field, Tim has provided a great description of what has changed in this edition.

For Archivists and Records Managers unaccustomed to reading law and legal references,  this book may be challenging. It’s a level up from your standard academic book, and the Copyright Patents and Design Act 1988 in itself is a famously difficult piece of law to navigate.  It’s a book to devote chunks of time to reading and understanding and it can be difficult to just pick up from where you may have left off.  This is not a criticism though. As it’s a book is about the law,  oversimplification may lead to misleading advice or incorrect facts. Moreover, Copyright for Archivists and Records Managers isn’t a book to be read cover to cover. It is for you to dip into and get the information you need. t’s laid out very nicely for that purpose.

Copyright Bonus

This is a hefty book with 411 pages. It’s over an inch thick and is quite heavy to hold for any amount of time, and perhaps not one you want to be carrying around. In a bright shade of yellow, it will stick out on your bookshelf.

I particularly like the back of the book, which is where you’re likely to start when you need to know X about Copyright. There is a whole chapter on Authorities outlining Treaties and Statutes.  Legal references are also explained together with notes on all the key cases. The bibliography contains useful resources for further learning, which is a very welcome bonus.


My conclusion is that Copyright for Archivists and Records Managers Sixth Edition will always be my go-to guide for anything copyright related.  Tim is renowned for his expertise in this field and the industry is lucky that he continues to update his book during retirement. What Tim doesn’t know about Copyright isn’t worth knowing for anyone in the information profession.

You can buy this book from the Facet Website for £59.95 – a bargain considering the amount of information it contains. I would have expected to pay closer to £100 for a book of this calibre!

There is no special offer for my readers this month. However, sign up to my mailing list in the month of October in order to be in the chance to win an I Love Records Management Tshirt.

I give this book a 10/10 as there isn’t an 11.

10/10 Wax Stamp


In exchange for an honest and impartial review, Facet sent me this book for free. Thank you so much to Facet Publishing for sending me Copyright for Archivists and Records Managers for review.


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Book Review: Copyright for Archivists & Records Managers
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