There is a time for all things

When time moves backwards and books are read before they are written, a business opportunity strikes.

For reasons that I fear will not become apparent during the course of this article, one of my customers has stored, at the Admiral Storage Facility, a copy of the 2005 Copyright Act of Ghana.

It is, I am told by my customer who knows such things, a comparatively short document.  Short that is, when compared to the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988 which runs to 306 sections and eight schedules.

Short too compared to the US Copyright Law of December 2011 (dedicated to Marybeth Peters, the eleventh Register of Copyrights of the United States, who served in that capacity from 1994 until the end of 2010), which made me think – why don’t we dedicate Acts of Parliament to individuals?

Perhaps we could have dedicated the Theatres Act 1968, which got rid of government censorship of all theatrical performances, to Christopher Marlowe. But I digress.

The US Copyright Law of 2011 is more succinct than its British counterpart as it runs to 360 pages.  But both are beaten hands down by the Ghanaian Act which gets through the whole messy business of who owns what in the world of copyright in just 32 pages.

But lest you should think that my customer collects Copyright Acts, let me assure you, that isn’t true.  He collects unusual publications that stretch the imagination.

Now at this point I could forgive you if you were feeling a little bemused.  A Copyright Act that stretches the imagination?  Surely not!

But indeed it is so.  For this Act gets particularly excited about anonymous works of literature, of which apparently there are many in Ghana, perhaps because of fear of censorship and reprisals being taken out on an author who gets a little too carried away with his/her subject.

On such published materials the Copyright Act tells us that the copyright is valid over a period of “70 years from the date on which the work was either made, first made available to the public or first published, whichever date is the latter.”

It took me a moment to see the fascination of this little clause, but once I had got my thinking glasses on I began to perceive the light of day.  Here we have three dates:

●    The date on which the piece was written
●    The date on which it was first made available to the public
●    The date on which it was published

Now I can appreciate that the second and third of these two dates could be the same – the particular work being made available for the first time when it was published as a book or as an article in a newspaper.

But how could either date be earlier than the date on which the piece was written?

The answer must be that Ghana, perhaps uniquely among member states within the United Nations, has for some time been drafting laws which take account of time travel.

This in turn is generally thought to imply travel at a speed faster than light (at which point the standard theory of all-sorts-of-things as devised by Einstein’s lesser known younger brother Bob, comes into play and time does move backwards).  Indeed, there was some hope last week that the discovery of gravitational waves could actually have revealed this.

In much excitement I worked my way through the scientific press, looking for the news that the two giant black holes that had collided, had in fact not yet collided, but, rather like the number 38 bus, were due to pop over the horizon sometime soon.

But no, it seems not.

Which is a shame, because if time were to move backwards, instead of my customers collecting last year’s newspapers or indeed even papers from the last century, we could have found ourselves storing next year’s newspapers.

And if that were the case, I could stock up on copies of Sporting Life, revealing to a select few the results of the 3.30 at Newbury, Newcastle, Newmarket, Newton Abbot, and Nottingham several weeks before the races took place.

That could then have a profound effect on the gambling industry, and could, if I played my cards right, result in them providing me with vast sums of money not to publish the findings.

But for now, such is the matter of dreams.  I shall however be keeping a particularly close eye on any written materials published in Ghana which happen to make their way into the Admiral Storage Facility.

You can find more information about our facilities on our website at, you can call us on 0800 810 1125.

Admiral Document Storage
Bloxwich Lane
Tel: 0800 810 1125


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