Privilege and Property

Copyright is a never ending area of fascinating discussion. Just when you think that you have read enough another interesting work sails across the screen. The collection of essays Privilege and Property. Essays on the History of Copyright recently came to my attention. The web blurb begins with:

What can and can’t be copied is a matter of law, but also of aesthetics, culture, and economics. The act of copying, and the creation and transaction of rights relating to it, evokes fundamental notions of communication and censorship, of authorship and ownership – of privilege and property.

The table of contents looks like this:

Introduction. The History of Copyright History: Notes from an Emerging Discipline by Martin Kretschmer, with Lionel Bently and Ronan Deazley
1. From Gunpowder to Print: The Common Origins of Copyright and Patent by Joanna Kostylo
2. ‘A Mongrel of Early Modern Copyright’: Scotland in European Perspective by Alastair J. Mann
3. The Public Sphere and the Emergence of Copyright: Areopagitica, the Stationers’ Company, and the Statute of Anne by Mark Rose
4. Early American Printing Privileges. The Ambivalent Origins of Authors’ Copyright in America by Oren Bracha
5. Author and Work in the French Print Privileges System: Some Milestones by Laurent Pfister
6. A Venetian Experiment on Perpetual Copyright by Maurizio Borghi
7. Copyright Formalities and the Reasons for their Decline in Nineteenth Century Europe by Stef van Gompel
8. The Berlin Publisher Friedrich Nicolai and the Reprinting Sections of the Prussian Statute Book of 1794 by Friedemann Kawohl
9. Nineteenth Century Controversies Relating to the Protection of Artistic Property in France by Frédéric Rideau
10. Maps, Views and Ornament: Visualising Property in Art and Law. The Case of Pre-modern France by Katie Scott
11. Breaking the Mould? The Radical Nature of the Fine Arts Copyright Bill 1862 by Ronan Deazley
12. ‘Neither Bolt nor Chain, Iron Safe nor Private Watchman, Can Prevent the Theft of Words’: The Birth of the Performing Right in Britain by Isabella Alexander
13. The Return of the Commons – Copyright History as a Common Source by  Karl-Nikolaus Peifer
14. The Significance of Copyright History for Publishing History and Historians by John Feather
15. Metaphors of Intellectual Property by William St Clair

The book is edited by Ronan Deazley, Martin Kretschmer & Lionel Bently and published by Open Book Publishers and has a Creative Commons NC-ND license the pdf is here. Even after a quick scroll through the file the book seems to be a must read.

Basic tip on essay writing

The new term has begun with new lectures and repeats of some old ones. Last week I gave a repeat performance (well for me at least) of my essay writing lecture. The main point is to get students thinking about their essays in time as well as getting them to understand how to write an essay. Then today I came across this wonderful quote from Antoine de Saint Exupéry the author of, among other books, The Little Prince

The way to get people to build a ship is not to teach them carpentry, assign them tasks, and give them schedules to meet; but to inspire them to long for the infinite immensity of the sea.

The problem with poetic and romantic quotes such as these is that they presents a misleading view of much of the world. All too many essay writers attempt (and many succeed) in writing an essay with no clear idea of what an essay is. You would never think of asking someone who has never seen a house to build you one?

The trick is get students to understand this.