Thursday, June 21, 2012

Stephanie Osborne (Google+) (blog) called me to task on early copyright on the digital publishing workshop mail list with a somewhat detailed explanation of copyright prior to the Statue of Anne. There was some and it was occasionally exercised, and when it was, it could be -- tough.

In one such conflict, 3000 died.  See:

The decision of King Diarmait Mac Cerbhaill in Ireland in the mid 6th century gave the judgement "To every cow belongs her calf, therefore to every book belongs its copy." Other actions, and monopolies for booksellers and such existed back into the Greek classical times. However, such actions were rare prior to the development of printing. Even in an active book culture like the Romans while Roman book sellers would sometimes pay a well regarded author for first access to a text for copying, they had no exclusive rights to a work and authors were not normally paid anything for their work. The Statue of Anne was the first modern  copyright law, and deserves that recognition.  

Which still doesn't make DRM anything but evil. 

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