Intellectual Property, Abstract v. Natural Right, Part I



Patrick is a mid-40 year old geek with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a master's degree in Information Systems. Nothing he says here has anything to do with the official position of his employer or any other institution.

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9 Responses

  1. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Did copyright attach upon authorship or registration under the statute of Anne? Was there a centralized registry?Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Wikipedia short answer: “The right granted was the right to copy; to have sole control over the printing and reprinting of books, with no provision to benefit the owner of this right after the sale.  This right, previously held by the Stationers’ Company’s members, would automatically be given to the author as soon as it was published, although they had the ability to license these rights to another person. The copyright could be gained through two stages; first, the registration of the book’s publication with the Company, to prevent unintentional infringement, and second, the deposit of copies of the book at the Stationers’ Company, the royal library and various universities. One restriction on copyright was a “cumbersome system” designed to prohibit unreasonably high prices for books, which limited how much authors could charge for copies.”

      Basically, the Stationer’s Company (having the monopoly on the press) didn’t really lose anything except for the fact that they didn’t automatically own the rights to the work; the author retained them.

      So the registry existed (maintained by the Company), but theoretically you could register your work with the Stationer’s Company (establishing your creation as yours) and then not publish it through them.Report

  2. Avatar Fnord says:

    It’s important to note that the tension between free speech and intellectual property goes all the way back to those beginnings. Indeed, the full title of the Licensing of the Press Act you mention is “An Act for preventing the frequent Abuses in printing seditious treasonable and unlicensed Bookes and Pamphlets and for regulating of Printing and Printing Presses.” The roots of copyright law are in government censorship.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Fnord says:

      From a legal standpoint, this is an important bit in the history of intellectual property, absolutely.  Not as much from a philosophical standpoint, which is what the upcoming posts will be about.

      However, after I get those done I’ll probably come back to this, because it is somewhat important to the discussion of where we ought to go from here.Report

  3. Avatar Will H. says:

    The copyright laws that I am familiar with are the old ones; the pre-1976 14yr + 14 extension and the post-Jan. 1, 1978, 20 years following the death of the author.
    I think the pre-’76 rules actually held to the Congressional authorization better then the newer ones.
    70 years past the death of the author is insane.

    Back then, it was something of a standard to copyright a collection, then file the free form for individual works from the collection.
    This was useful if an author had several fragments.
    Reagan changed that.

    Merely having theoretical rights is of no use without access to those rights.

    I started using the sealed envelope method; make notes on the outside of an envelope as to its contents, stuff it full of things, and mail it to yourself.
    The copyright is technically secured as of the date the work is in fixed form.
    The postmark on the envelope substantiates an applicable date of fixed form.

    I’ve written something like 200 songs, and I hold the copyright on maybe 60 or so of them.
    I was first a published author when I was still a freshman in high school, so I learned that sort of thing early on. I haven’t kept up with it though.

    I’ve read in papers elsewhere (which dealt with litigation) that Google’s purchase of Motorola was not so much to secure the patents, but to be free from litigation related to patent infringement.Report