Report: Copyright

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  History: Anglo-American Tradition

With the introduction of the printing press into England in 1476 printing was made easier and faster and made copies less expensive. By the early 16th century two trades dominated the industry: independent printers and booksellers or stationers many of whom were vertically integrated as printers. At the time, the Crown was concerned about sedition and the Church about heresy. In 1557 by royal charter the Stationers' Company of London was created and exclusive rights granted. Approved printers were given the right to copy approved works. Accordingly the roots of copyright were censorship.

The Statute of Queen Ann, the first formal copyright law, was passed in 1710. Copyright was then conferred on the author of a work, but still the owner of copyright was nearly always the bookseller. Only in 1775 the House of Lords replaced the common law of printing rights in favor of the author.

In this tradition the underlying concept of copyright is monopoly, first granted to printers, then to booksellers and later to individual creators. Copyright is treated as a commodity to be bought and sold and inspired by a need to protect the public from the power of the artist.

browse Report:
-2   Intellectual Property and the "Information Society" Metaphor
-1   Intellectual Property: A Definition
0   History: Anglo-American Tradition
+1   History: European Tradition
+2   History: Communist Tradition
+3   History: "The South"
Recent "Digital Copyright" Legislation: European Union