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On the Origin of the Right to Copy

Charting the Movement of Copyright Law in Eighteenth Century Britain (1695-1775)

By: Ronan Deazley
Media of On the Origin of the Right to Copy
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Published: 31-07-2004
Format: Hardback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 264
ISBN: 9781841133751
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £80.00
Online price : £72.00
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About On the Origin of the Right to Copy

Taking as its point of departure the lapse of the Licensing Act 1662 in 1695, this book examines the lead up to the passage of the Statute of Anne 1709 and charts the movement of copyright law throughout the eighteenth century, culminating in the House of Lords decision in Donaldson v Becket (1774). The established reading of copyright's development throughout this period, from the 1709 Act to the pronouncement in Donaldson, is that it was transformed from a publisher's right to an author's right; that is, legislation initially designed to regulate the marketplace of the bookseller and publisher evolved into an instrument that functioned to recognise the proprietary inevitability of an author's intellectual labours. The historical narrative which unfolds within this book presents a challenge to that accepted orthodoxy. The traditional analysis of the development of copyright in eighteenth-century Britain is revealed as exhibiting the character of long-standing myth, and the centrality of the modern proprietary author as the raison d'être of the copyright regime is displaced.

Table Of Contents

1. Politics, Propaganda and Profanity; Not Property
2. The Statute of Anne; A Miserable Havock
3. Scraps of Proceedings
4. Be Careful What You Wish For
5. The First: Copyright at Common Law? A “Complicated” Action
The Second: The Lawyers' Tales
6. Property and the Pamphleteers
7. Millar v Taylor; The Temporary Perpetual Triumph
8. Donaldson v Becket; A Game of Numbers
9. An Ending and a Beginning


“This book is worth the work for anyone with a serious interest in eighteenth-century copyright…” –  Don-John Dugas, The Scriblerian, Vol. 39, No. 2

“In the strongest section of the book, the author examines the legislative history of the Statute of Anne (1709), discussion of which will not be easily found elsewhere...It helpfully offers a different perspective on a mine of historical material from which the specialist will benefit...this is a book to be welcomed.” –  Ross Gilbert Anderson, SCRIPT-ed, Volume 3, Issue 3

“[Deazley] presents us with an excellent history of eighteenth-century copyright law, full of fascinating detail. His story is beautifully told, with pace and interest, conveying the issues with riveting immediacy. He portrays effectively the subtlety and complexity of the various situations, but still offers the reader a sense of perspective.” –  Catherine Seville, Journal of Legal History, Vol. 26, Issue 3; pg 382-385

“...Ronan Deazley's cogent considerably useful…this learned book performs a valuable..service.” –  Adam Budd, Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society, Issue No 20

“ ought to read Deazley in order to question and challenge one's own rather placid view of the evolution of copyright.” –  Uma Suthersanen, European Intellectual Property Review, Vol 28, Issue 4

“...the most authoritative account to date of this important period in the development of the modern law of copyright…this book is nicely produced,...and unusually for a scholarly work of its kind, it is a very good read. It is very much to be recommended.” –  John N. Adams, Intellectual Property Quarterly

“The book provides a detailed and often intriguing analysis of the cases and legislative developments over the 80-year period covered by the book…a valuable examination...and interesting not only for its historical insights but also for the light it sheds on copyright debates today.” –  Helen Dakin, Copyright Reporter, Vol 23, No 3

“...meticulously researched..[Deazley] uncovers a wealth of new material and addresses issues left untouched by the existing histories...a fascinating and informative book, which will prove valuable to all those interested in the history of copyright law.” –  Isabella Alexander, The Cambridge Law Journal

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