A Piece of Blue Sky: Legal FAQ

By Chris Owen, 21 May 1999

HTML and Links by Tilman Hausherr

False claims have repeatedly been made about "A Piece of Blue Sky" in the years since the libel judgement against Jon Atack, most recently to the bookseller amazon.com, which withdrew the book from its catalogue for a short period. So, for reference, here is a short Blue Sky Legal FAQ.

(A caveat: I am not a lawyer, so this shouldn't be treated as legal advice.)

Q. Is "A Piece of Blue Sky" banned anywhere?

A. No. Claims of copyright violation were dismissed in the United States [and Canada, I think]. The author was successfully sued for libel in the United Kingdom, but he is the only one banned from distributing, publishing or selling the book. No other individual or company has been enjoined over the book.

Q. Has the whole book been declared libellous?

A. No. One paragraph (at the top of page 336) was found to be defamatory. Nothing in the rest of the book was declared libellous.

Q. Is it legal for me, as a UK citizen, to buy or sell the book?

A. Yes. There are no injunctions preventing the book from being sold or distributed by or to anyone other than Jon Atack.

Q. Is it legal for me to sell the book to somebody in England and Wales?

A. Assuming that you are living outside England and Wales, the book has no court-imposed restrictions on it whatsoever. Within England and Wales, nobody other than Jon Atack is banned from distributing or selling the book.

Q. Does a finding of libel affect the book's status anywhere else?

A. No. It does not even affect the book in the whole of the UK - the book was found libellous only in English law, which does not apply to Scotland or Northern Ireland, let alone overseas.

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