British Magazine Copyright Law - Can I Legally Do This ??

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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British Magazine Copyright Law - Can I Legally Do This ??

Post by roylehypnotist »

Hello There,

Firstly many thanks in advance to everyone who takes the time to give their input and answers to the question/s I am about to raise.

In a nutshell a British Company (now closed) called "Repro Magic" published a subscription mail order magazine

Repro Magic was set up by Geoff Maltby in London and from 1970 ran their own Magazine called “Club 71â€￾ which was in much later years renamed to “The Magicianâ€￾.

This magazine ran from 1970 until 1979 when it took a break and then started again in 1984, with publication continuing until the last issue appeared during 2007.

During this time almost 14,000 pages of content were published and now after many months of work, Jonathan Royle is proud and excited that he has now managed to find, extract and then compile together the 1,154 pages that were dedicated to truly original, innovative and high class Mentalism & Mind-Reading Secrets and Routines!

Although in total this constitutes less than 8.25% (eight and a quarter) percent of the entire contents of “Club 71â€￾ this is the PURE GOLD and is solely comprised of the Mentalism, Mind-Reading and Psychic Style material that appeared within the pages of the magazine.

Repro Magic closed its doors in 2008 and that same year as reported in Issue 422 (26th July 2008) of MagicWeek, Geoff Maltby signed over the Legal Ownership of all Repro Magic Copyrights to Mike Danata who runs Mike Danatas Magic Supplies in Bournemouth.


I recently obtained Legal Permission from Mike Danata
upon the Mentalism Content within the magazines that were
published allowing me to publish them as PHYSICAL PRINT EDITON BOOKS ONLY (he said he was under the impression that
he may have signed away his digital rights on the material in an earlier deal with someone else)

So After much work I took the Mentalism material (consituting less than 8 and a quarter percent of the magazines contents over the years) and formulated three books ready for sale..

I decided I needed to raise some more funds to get the books printed and so decided to offer ONE TIME ONLY LICENSES FOR PEOPLE TO PRINT THEIR OWN PHYSICAL EDITONS.

I figured that if as a condition of purchase they agreed to the following points, then I could argue that I was not breaching anybodys "digital rights" as I would not be selling an ebook download, but rather a ONE TIME ONLY LEGAL LICENSE TO PRINT A PHSYICAL EDITION OF THE BOOK.

The conditions I attached to people being able to purchase were
as shown here:

(Copy and paste from my adverts)

Your Legal Obligations When You Download The Three Volumes of "The Mentalism & Mind Reading Secrets
of Repro Magic" Books (By Purchasing You Legally Agree to the Following Terms & Conditions)

When you click to purchase these downloadable PDF digital Files you are paying for the One Time Usage Legal License to print your own Physical Hard Copy of these 3 "Repro Magic Mentalism" books out by agreeing to the terms and conditions of sale that are stated below and which by purchasing you will be agreeing to abide by as follows:

*That by purchasing you agree that you must not in any manner at any time share the digital PDF files that you have downloaded and gained One Time Only Legal Rights to Print out in Physical Form.

*That by purchasing you agree that you must print these three "Repro Magic Mentalism" PDF Files out into Physical form within 28 days maximum of making your purchase.

*That by purchasing you agree to delete fully from your computer or other electronic device these 3 "Repro Magic Mentalism" digital files once you have printed out the physical copy for which you have purchased legal license to print out One Copy for your own personal usage.

*That by purchasing you agree never to Give Away, Lend Out, Rent, Swap, Trade or Sell the Physical Copy to any other individual as by purchasing you agreed that it was always for your own eyes and personal ownership only.



1) I have checked and most every issue of the magazine contained a clear section which stated that by contributing an article that the author of said article was agreeing to hand over Copyright to Repro Magic the company that published the magazine.

Am I right in saying that as they submitted materials knowing this, that as they had given away their copyright to Repro Magic, that in turn they were then able to sell all the rights onto Mike and then ultimately he was able to sell/license them onto me for the purpose of cherry picking the mentalism articles and making compilation books of that particular content?


2) Am I able to Legally supply people a digital file (PDF) of the books contents for the express purpose of them printing out their own physical edition if it is a condition of sale that they have to agree to these points below or would that breach the rights of the person who owns digital rights on this material?


3) If someone had bought "Exclusive Digital rights" to
the magazines I gather that they could not stop me from publishing in physical print hard copy format if I have sought such permission from the original copyright owner ?


4) Finally if there was a person who was claiming that they had purchased "Exclusive digital rights" and they were trying to stop me from a) selling any form of PDF EBook of my compilations and also b) from supplying people a master digital file to print their own physical copy as per example given earlier, is there anything I can do to legally overcome this?

For example if the agreement they got in writing just says they got given upon purchase "Exclusive Digital Rights" on CLub 71 Magazine and DOES NOT specifically state and/or detail anything else, then in the absence of it stating anything else would it be fair to say that they had only purchased rights to publish the magazines as they were originally intended as single isses, yearly volumes and as a full set (as they are doing on their site)

And thus meaning that THEY DO NOT have the rights to extract articles from the magazines and make compilations??

And if that is the case, would it mean that if the copyright owner gave me permission to extract articles for compiling into compilation volumes that I could do so digitally as well as in physical print form (if copyright owner allowed me) or is that not the case?

Essentially I mean if Mike Danata HAS NOT specifically stated in the written agreement that he has granted the other party specific rights to alter, extract etc and then produce compilations would that mean that the third party is PROHIBITED from doing so?

And if they are PROHIBITED from doing so would it mean that Mike could give the permission to do so in digital form to someone else?

Many thanks in advance for any help and advice in clarifying these points.

Jonathan Royle
Professional Hypnotist, Magician, Mind Reader and Celebrity Life Coach
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Post by AndyJ »

Hi Jonathan,

Thanks for the very full explanation.

As I understand it you are basically asking three questions. But underlying those questions is the matter of what Mike Danata can or can't do with his copyright. So to quickly answer that, he can exercise his rights in any way he wishes to, and can divide the rights accordingly. So for instance he could have divided the licences by terrtitory, where you had the UK rights and the other person had the US or rest of the world rights. Or given each licence a fixed duration. Or as in your case, your licence was restricted to just the Mentalist Content. To that extent most of the detailed questions you raise can be resolved by the copyright owner clarifying what he meant or intended. However I sense there may be a problem with doing this.

Anyway, to return to the questions, which I have re-drafted thus:
  • 1. Did individual contributors to the magazine assign their copyright to the publishers of Club 71?
    2. Does a print-only licence from the copyright owner allow you to distribute copies of the magazine or its individual articles in pdf format?
    3. Can the licensee who has the digital-only rights produce digital copies of the individual articles, or is he restricted to just reproducing the complete magazine in each instance?
Unfortunately the answers in each case start with 'it depends...' Each answer will inevitably depend on what was written in the various agreements. So to take Question 1 as the easiest example: What was the exact text which appeared in the conditions for contributors to the magazine? If it was merely along the lines of "By submitting your article you agree to give the publisher the right to publish it ...." then that would not amount to a full assignment of copyright, and would just be a non-exclusive licence for the magazine publisher to use the article. In fact it would be exactly the same sort of licence which applies to submissions on this forum. It is most unlikely, in the absence of precise wording saying so, that any contributor would have been asked to relinquish their copyright entirely, and even if they had, such a condition would fail to meet the legal requirement for an assignment to be in writing and signed by the copyright owner (see Section 90 (3)).

Assuming that the terms printed in the magazine were sufficiently well drafted, even if the contributor was only asked to grant a licence to the publishers, that licence should have been sufficiently open-ended to cover you (and the licensee of the digital rights) to reproduce the articles.

As for the specific rights that you and the other licensee hold, it will depend what was stated in the agreements you both made with Mike Danata. It sounds as if these were written agreements, in which case a court would look at the wording to decide whether your own licence included permission to distribute the compilations in pdf for example. I am assuming that since you are asking the question, either there was no written agreement or it did not cover any details about methods. If the licences were purely verbal ones, or vague written ones, then a court would have to decide what the parties to the agreement meant to happen. So, on the matter of issuing pdfs for buyers to self-print, was this discussed with Mike Danata at the time? If he agreed to this method but didn't put it in writing then this would certainly be awkward for you because I assume the digital-only licensee would not be happy about it. However if nothing specific to pdfs was mentioned at all, then I think, based on the everyday meaning of the words, the assumption would be that distributing the content via a digital file or download directly to the end-user was not permitted under the print-only licence, and you were only allowed to make digital files to the extent necessary to print the hard copies yourself (or using a printing company which was not the end-user) and selling pdfs would be an activity reserved to the owner of the digital-only licence. Clearly if you are still in contact with Mike Danata, he would be the person to consult on this.

Much the same applies to the rights obtained by the digital-only licensee. Whether he is restricted to producing just facsimiles of each complete magazine or is permitted to issue individual articles or indeed compilations, depends on what was written or discussed at the time with Mike Danata. As Mr Danata "was under the impression that he may have signed away his digital rights" this does rather suggest there was a written agreement with the other licensee as well. However let's look at what I think a court might find in the absence of such detail having been written down or agreed verbally. Digital rights to reproduce the magazines would normally mean not just a straightforward facsimile of each page (say as a jpg) or in ebook format, but also an intermediate process of character recognition or transcription such that the text itself was fully digitized and thus open to text searching etc. On that basis I think that once a digital text had been produced, it would be open to the owner of the digital-only licence to provide whatever sections or subsections of the work he or his end-users required. So for instance if an end-user wanted to find all articles on a particular subject, or which included a particular word or phrase, then that would a service the licensee could offer. I am guessing that maybe the heart of the issues you raise is access to the Mentalist content, which I presume the digital-only licensee also has full rights to.

So to summarise, if Mike Danata is still around to answer, you should pose questions 2 and 3 to him. If he isn't, then I think the digital-only licence would permit the licensee to distribute the text etc in whatever sized chunks he or his users wanted, and you would be infringing the digital-only licence by publishing the magazine or compilations in pdf since that is clearly a digital format and not a printed copy. The conditions you want to apply to the end-user are irrelvant because it is the means of distribution which is the issue. The solution to your problem would seem to be for you to use a print-on-demand service such as Blurb or Lulu*. Thus the print service would hold the digital file, but the end-user could only order a printed copy, either directly from the printer, or via an order placed with you.
The question about whether the licence that individual contributors agreed to when submitting their articles would still hold good for your reprints and the digital-only service, rests on the exact wording used in the magazines, but in all probability that licence would cover these new re-publications.

* Afternote. I have just noticed from your website that you already use Lulu to provide copies of you books, and so you will be familiar with the process.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
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Thanks Andy

Post by roylehypnotist »

Wow thank you ever so much Andy for that truly detailed answer which is truly appreciated.

Looks like my only choice is Lulu or Createspace for physical books then.

Unless the wording of a written agreement with Mike and the digital guy shows that it was for magazines only...

Yes must try to see that document again.

Many thanks

Professional Hypnotist, Magician, Mind Reader and Celebrity Life Coach
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