Introduction: The History of Copyright History

Introductory chapter to – Privilege and Property: Essays on the History of Copyright (eds. R. Deazley, M. Kretschmer, L. Bently), Cambridge: Open Book Publishers (2010)

16 Pages Posted: 22 May 2012

See all articles by Martin Kretschmer

Martin Kretschmer

University of Glasgow

Lionel A. F. Bently

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law

Ronan Deazley

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

What can and can’t be copied is a matter of law, but also of aesthetics, culture, and economics. The act of copying, and the creation and transaction of rights relating to it, evokes fundamental notions of communication and censorship, of authorship and ownership – of privilege and property.

This volume conceives a new history of copyright law that has its roots in a wide range of norms and practices. The essays reach back to the very material world of craftsmanship and mechanical inventions of Renaissance Italy where, in 1469, the German master printer Johannes of Speyer obtained a five-year exclusive privilege to print in Venice and its dominions. Along the intellectual journey that follows, we encounter John Milton who, in 1644 accused the English parliament of having been deceived by the ‘fraud of some old patentees and monopolizers in the trade of bookselling’ (i.e. the London Stationers’ Company).

Later revisionary essays investigate the regulation of the printing press in the North American colonies as a provincial and somewhat crude version of European precedents, and how, in the revolutionary France of 1789, the subtle balance that the royal decrees had established between the interests of the author, the bookseller, and the public, was shattered by the abolition of the privilege system. Some of the essays also address the specific evolution of rights associated with the visual and performing arts.

The volume is a companion to the digital archive Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Keywords: copyright law, social & cultural history

JEL Classification: O34, K11

Suggested Citation

Kretschmer, Martin and Bently, Lionel A. F. and Deazley, Ronan, Introduction: The History of Copyright History (2010). Introductory chapter to – Privilege and Property: Essays on the History of Copyright (eds. R. Deazley, M. Kretschmer, L. Bently), Cambridge: Open Book Publishers (2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2063778

Martin Kretschmer (Contact Author)

University of Glasgow ( email )

10 The Square
Glasgow, G12 8QQ
United Kingdom

Lionel A. F. Bently

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law ( email )

10 West Road
Cambridge, CB3 9DZ
United Kingdom

Ronan Deazley

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
185
rank
160,127
Abstract Views
829
PlumX Metrics
!

Under construction: SSRN citations while be offline until July when we will launch a brand new and improved citations service, check here for more details.

For more information