Laddie, Prescott and Vitoria on The Modern Law of Copyright

Carol Tullo (Sweet & Maxwell) on Laddie, Prescott and Vitoria

Facilitator: And one of the books of your competitors, was Laddie, Prescott and Vitoria, do you recall any – what was the publishing history of this book coming out and I think that was a surprise for many people, was it?
 
Carol Tullo: No. I don’t think we were surprised at all. Remember the marketplace in law publishing was dominated by the two publishing houses then, they’re slightly different now but Sweet & Maxwell and Butterworths. There were other smaller, more tailored publishers, then people came into try and compete, but it’s very hard to compete with a blockbuster publisher like those two. But clearly, what we did look at was market share. I mean, it’s a business and in certain areas, Sweet & Maxwell was dominant, in other areas, Butterworths, particularly in tax for example, their tax law coverage was dominant. In family law, they were much stronger and others would rival them, they would try and take a little bit of that market. But there was always room for innovation and there was always the requirement for academic authors particularly, to have some academic kudos by publishing. Of course, now it’s part of every university contract, isn’t it? But that was already growing and developing through the 1980s and so they were always looking for little niches in which to get their name into print. So they might start by doing a series of lectures or a small student book or offering support on a major reference work. But generally speaking, we would look at the offering and we’d look at where the gaps were and if you’ve got something that was clearly highly successful, like Copinger and Skone James then you would look to see, well is there a gap? Is there something we could compete with?
 
Copinger is a very traditional book and although they had brought in others in the chambers I could see that a taxation specialist, or somebody with US experience would add value. There was always an opportunity to say, instead of always adding to the existing work perhaps, paying undue reverence to some of the earlier work from previous editions, to get to know the book and so there was almost – almost a feeling that there was a loyalty to the way the storyline, the DNA of the book developed and so perhaps you’d want to keep that and so to be a little bit more iconoclastic and say, well, “If you’re writing a book now, would we start from where Copinger started?” and the answer is, no you wouldn’t with any book. And so there was healthy competition and we knew Hugh Laddie was writing this book, and knew Mary Vitoria very well, because Mary Vitoria, I think did some of the indexes, some of the early preparatory work on Copinger at one stage– that’s my memory. But, certainly I knew Mary Vitoria, when she was a new younger member of chambers and she came in with a scientific background, so she was already quite experienced and she was this new breed of intellectual property barrister, with expertise in a scientific area. So you could look at it in a different way and so when the book came out it was an opportunity to reframe copyright law and I think my memory is, that they made quite a play about saying, there is a room for Copinger, but you know, we are the new ones and they actually called it Modern Law of Copyright. I don’t know if it’s still called The Modern Law of Copyright and we just thought it’s really good but the market was growing and would absorb another treatment. Think of it, if we are sitting at Sweet & Maxwell with the pre-eminent IP list, because it was growing and developing all time, books like Copinger brought people to you. People wanted to be part of that success. They wanted to be part of that marketing machine and they wanted to be connected with these, really, icons of the law and we were already trying to safeguard the position of these titles and really encourage new writing, new people to come in and also instead of saying, that you just had one book on copyright, we started producing books on passing off and books on specialist areas of infringement and we started looking at where we could, I suppose develop our list knowing that the – in a way you don’t want it to ossify the subject matter, but you had quite a responsibility to the traditions of the book and I think you can still see that now in later editions of Copinger.
Laddie, Prescott and Vitoria on The Modern Law of Copyright