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Copyright in Scotland: Is the Scottish publishing industry capitalising on its intellectual property?

Ramdarshan Bold, Melanie


Melanie Ramdarshan Bold


The aim of this study is to understand the operational practices of copyright exploitation and protection from the perspective of the Scottish publishing industry. The study begins with a historical overview of the development of copyright legislation in the United Kingdom, which helps to build a theoretical framework to understand copyright. The study then explores the contemporary publishing environment and details the progression of rights exploitation within the publishing industry. It analyses how the historical development of copyright informs contemporary practices, particularly the role of globalisation, new technologies, ‘piracy’, and the Romantic notion of authorship in shaping copyright legislation. Furthermore, this research charts the professionalisation of authorship, which helps to build a case of contemporary Scottish authors. These issues are elucidated with a multi-method analysis of the Scottish publishing industry, and its approach to copyright exploitation and protection. As the focus of the empirical research is the Scottish publishing industry it has been contextualised within national and international copyright development and discourse.

The key issues from the review of literature are explored in the context of the Scottish publishing industry through interviews and questionnaires with key players. Consequently, this thesis argues that copyright exists to promote and protect the interests of the triadic relationship between the author, the publisher and the public and, as such, the interests of each party should be considered equally. The empirical research found that the majority of Scottish publishers, authors and literary agents are not fostering intellectual property rights effectively across international markets and new media: The failure to do this means that the operational practices of the Scottish publishing industry are not in harmony with the burgeoning digital publishing environment. If Scottish publishers and literary agents continue with current practices it will become increasingly difficult for them to compete in the national and international publishing environment. Digital publishing has been considered as a panacea to bridge the gaps between different sized publishing companies: allowing small, independent companies to compete on an equal footing with cross-media conglomerates. However, this study has found that Scottish publishers and literary agents are not capitalising on new technology and new platforms for dissemination: this is detrimental to the authors they represent. This study found that Scottish authors’ earnings were insufficient so fostering their rights more effectively could help supplement their income. This study concludes that only by better training, education and knowledge exchange, in matters of rights exploitation and digital publishing, can Scottish publishing compete in the international arena and contribute to, and benefit financially from, the knowledge economy.

This study impacts all the key stakeholders in the Scottish publishing industry, and other regional publishing industries, by addressing gaps in the literature and highlighting the shortcomings of inefficient operational practices, and provides recommendations to improve these practices.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jun 14, 2012
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Copyright; intellectual property; Scottish publishing industry; rights exploitation;
Public URL
Contract Date Jun 14, 2012
Award Date 2012-05


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