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Re: <nettime> What has copyright to do with democracy?
Novica Nakov on Fri, 26 Jun 2009 20:53:10 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> What has copyright to do with democracy?

>>What has copyright to do with democracy?
>>Abstract: The debates on whether or not copyright and democracy are
>>compatible concepts are not new. It has been discussed since the
>>1700s and concerns a form of separation of powers. Copyright is a
>>monopoly, but at the same time, when copyright came, it was a strike
>>at another form of monopoly, the printers' rights, with their roots
>>in the guild system. Copyright could not occur until censorship was
>>abolished, and it can actually be seen as a complement to the
>>freedom of expression. Copyright was early associated with privacy
>>issues. However, if proportionality is not followed in the
>>maintenance of law, both integrity and freedom of expression could
>>be threatened.

I read your article and found the parts about the first introduction
of copyright very interesting.

It reminded me of another article I've read, but this one has a
completely opposite view on the Statute of Anne:

The Stationers based their strategy on a crucial realization, one that
has stayed with publishing conglomerates ever since: authors do not
have the means to distribute their own works. Writing a book requires
only pen, paper, and time. But distributing a book requires printing
presses, transportation networks, and an up-front investment in
materials and typesetting. Thus, the Stationers reasoned, people who
write would always need a publisher's cooperation to make their work
generally available. Their strategy used this fact to maximum
advantage. They went before Parliament and offered the then-novel
argument that authors had a natural and inherent right of ownership in
what they wrote, and that furthermore, such ownership could be
transferred to other parties by contract, like any other form of

Their argument succeeded in persuading Parliament. The Stationers had
managed to avoid the odium of censorship, as the new copyrights would
originate with the author, but they knew that authors would have
little choice but to sign those rights back over to a publisher for
distribution. There was some judicial and political wrangling over the
details, but in the end both halves of the Stationers' argument
survived essentially intact, and became part of English statutory law.
The first recognizably modern copyright, the Statute of Anne, was
passed in 1710.

The whole article is available here:
http://questioncopyright.org/promise - but the site seems to be down
at the moment. I guess Google cache has a copy as well.


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