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Issues regarding copyright


137 Issues

Whilst the NAS was in existence, articles or other material submitted for publication in the Journals came within normal ownership and copyright rules. Thus, in submitting an item for publication, the NAS became the copyright owner of the item once it was published. There is no evidence of any special agreement to override the standard arrangement.[1]

The Journals now come under the heading of ‘orphan works’ as I found no evidence that copyright was transferred to anyone else upon closure of the NAS.[2] Unless challenged, as in the next paragraph, the republished Journals in digital format as edited by myself are my copyright, or whosoever I assign the copyright to. As the submitted articles to the NAS Journals are now ‘orphan works’, the original authors consequentially are free to resubmit their original manuscripts to any publisher, if they so wish.

Claims have been made that the NAS was not closed down according to its Constitution (see Appendix). So, in theory, could lead to a legal challenge that the NAS still exists legally, be it in name only. In the highly unlikely case of a successful challenge, this could complicate copyright issues. Such action would be very expensive and rather pointless.[3] The initial anger over closure by some members dissipated long ago.

Protecting the Database

I, Lew Sutton, would have preferred to waive copyright claim over the digitised versions of the Journals, but that could allow a commercial enterprise to gain exclusive rights to them. Retaining copyright also reduces the risk of deliberate misrepresentation by journalists in written or broadcast form – a long-standing problem many older readers will be very familiar with. Mischievous editing of text or recordings in order to deliberately bias accounts have been a problem right from the early days of spiritualistic phenomena. However, one has to acknowledge that such problems are common perhaps in all aspects of life.

Authority to Re-Publish

In my position as appointed official NAS reporter, I was given permission to use any NAS written or recorded material in the furtherance of promoting the aims of the Society. I exercised that right by using NAS material in lectures and in published articles. Republishing the Journals is a continuation of an established precedent. Whether this is more than just a ‘moral right’ is open to question. All the ex-committee members, officers and members whom I have spoken to are more than happy to endorse making the journals freely available in republished digital format.

Hence, for the material that forms this database, unlimited copying is allowed for private study and research. Unauthorised public transmission or broadcasting prohibited. Mechanical Copyright licencing considered on application for registered charities deemed compatible and sympathetic to the cause of constructively supporting physical mediumship.


[1]. A former president, Alf Winchester, confirmed that the NAS was run on an informal basis with no formal written agreements, even for the physical mediums giving their services to the NAS.

[2]. NAS president George Cranley was chair of Two Worlds Publishing and Tony Ortzen editor of the Two Worlds magazine at the time of the NAS closing. Ortzen has confirmed by email that Journal copyright was not transferred to Two Worlds Publishing or to himself personally. NAS secretary Elizabeth Wheeler (later became wife of NAS president George Cranley) has also confirmed that there was no committee discussion on copyright transfer. For official information on ‘orphan works’ see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/copyright-orphan-works

[3]. Such legal action would almost certainly fail as my extensive investigations have revealed fading memories resulting in conflicting versions of events and no documentation to support the claim. Former NAS secretary Mrs Elisabeth Cranley (nee Wheeler) said George was meticulous in dealing with committee matters and considered it highly unlikely that he would have made a mistake in the closure procedures.