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Book blogs and book covers

May 4, 2009
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Courtesy: Uncommon Depth at flickr (Creative Commons)

Courtesy: Uncommon Depth at flickr (Creative Commons)

Clearly it would be in publishers’ interests to allow the free uploading of book covers by book bloggers, and clearly most book bloggers do upload book covers. But, having worked for many years in a profession (librarian/archivist) where copyright has been an everyday concern, I have been seeking some clarity on this issue. While I don’t expect to be sued by a publisher – in my experience most copyright owners will politely ask you to remove a misuse than fire their big guns to start with – I would like to understand the parameters within which I can comfortably work.

Consequently, I started by emailing 3 publishers for books I’ve reviewed (elsewhere). One publisher responded immediately stating that their terms and conditions allowing use of covers by “media, the book trade, libraries and others for appropriate purposes related to the books without any need to clear permission” included book blogs. Another responded cautiously at first stating that covers are complex (and they are, I suppose, as there are designers, there can be images sourced elsewhere incorporated into the design, and so on) and that people can be touchy about “negative portrayals”(!), but to their credit came back to me a few days later with blanket approval for use of their covers in my blog. Two down, one to go … and still, some 14 days later, waiting.

In the meantime, LibraryThing provides covers for free downloading and Amazon too has a service. Another source is OpenLibrary. But the copyright issue is not fully canvassed on these sites as far as I can tell. And that’s understandable – after all copyright law is different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

So where does that leave book bloggers – alone with their commonsense, I reckon!

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