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By Benedict Atkinson, Brian Fitzgerald

This e-book tells the tale of the way, over centuries, humans, society and tradition created legislation affecting provide of knowledge. within the 21 century, uniform international copyright legislation are claimed to be imperative to the luck of leisure, net and different details industries. Do copyright legislation motivate info circulate? Many say that copyright legislation restrict dissemination, harming society. within the final three hundred years, industries armed with copyrights managed output and distribution. Now the internet’s disruption of financial styles might notably reshape details rules. details freedom, a resource of emancipation, may perhaps swap the world.

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Extra resources for A Short History of Copyright: The Genie of Information

Sample text

Legislators wanted principally to benefit the public, or at least that part of the public with time and income to spend on books. They did not waste much time thinking about the welfare of the common herd. Most thought of the public not as the plurality of citizens but rather as victims of the Crown’s unjust exercise of authority. The United States Act, of course, emerged from the creative swirl of great events, and the deliberations of one of the greatest legislative assemblies ever gathered. Its arrival coincided with the beginning of the French Revolution, which, in a few years, would bring forth the horrors of dictatorship by committee, and state-sponsored murder, as well as copyright legislation born of a philosophy distinct from that which inspired the British and US codes.

8 In Millar v. Taylor (1769), they seemed to have won a decisive victory but in Donaldson, the House of Lords turned its back on their claims. In the end, the support of two luminaries of English law, Lord Mansfield and William Blackstone, the former presiding over the King’s Bench in Millar v. Taylor and the latter a judge in Donaldson, could not rescue their cause. 9 However, in Donaldson, Lord Camden responded to the booksellers’ arguments with withering scorn, and the Lords voted 6:5 that even if common law copyright existed, the Statute of Anne extinguished it.

For much of the eighteenth century, energies were diverted away from authorship. Could the Statute of Anne have regulated the colonies, it would have functioned, as did imperial legislation in the nineteenth century, to secure for British publishers control over colonial trade in books. Had imperial legislation applied to eighteenth century American colonies, British trade monopoly could only have stoked revolutionary flames. It may be that in the early part of the eighteenth century, British parliamentarians were little concerned by publishing across the Atlantic.

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