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Vol 23 No 4 April/May 2018

Book of the Month

Cover of Williams, Mortimer and Sunnucks: Executors, Administrators and Probate

Williams, Mortimer and Sunnucks: Executors, Administrators and Probate

Edited by: Alexander Learmonth, Charlotte Ford, Julia Clark, John Ross Martyn
Price: £295.00

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Copyright Law and the Public Interest in the Nineteenth Century

ISBN13: 9781841137865
Published: March 2010
Publisher: Hart Publishing
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Hardback
Price: £70.00

Despatched in 4 to 6 days.

Copyright law is commonly described as carrying out a balancing act between the interests of authors or owners and those of the public.

While much academic work, both historical and contemporary, has been done on the authorship side of the equation, this book examines the notion of public interest, and the way that concepts of public interest and the rhetoric surrounding it have been involved in shaping the law of copyright.

While many histories of copyright focus on the eighteenth century, this book's main concern is with the period after 1774. The nineteenth century was the period during which the boundaries of copyright, as we know it today, were drawn and ideas of “public interest” were integral to this process, but in different, and complex, ways.

The book engages with this complexity by moving beyond debates about the appropriate duration of copyright, and considers the development of other important features of copyright law, such as the requirement of legal deposit, the principle that some works will not be subject to copyright protection on the grounds of public interest, and the law of infringement. While the focus of the book is on literary copyright, it also traces the expansion of copyright to cover new subject matters, such as music, dramatic works and lectures.

The book concludes by examining the making of the 1911 Imperial Copyright Act – the statute upon which the law of copyright in Britain, and in all former British colonies, is based. The history traced in this book has considerable relevance to debates over the scope of copyright law in the present day; it emphasises the contingency and complexity of copyright law's development and current shape, as well as encouraging a critical approach to the justifications for copyright law.

Intellectual Property Law, Legal History
1. Introduction: Copyright, History, the Public I. The Public Interest: Balances and Incentives II. The Stories So Far ... III. Scope and Structure 2 Copyright before the Nineteenth Century I. Pre-history of the Statute of Anne II. The Statute Takes Shape III. Charting the Boundaries of the Statute of Anne IV. Unfinished Edges 3 Copyright, the Book Trade and the Reading Public I. Co-operation and Corporatism in the Book Trade II. The Battle over Legal Deposit III. Books Contrary to the Public Interest IV. Conclusion 4 Extension and Expansion I. Copyright in the Spoken Word II. The Copyright Act of 1842 III. Foreign Authors and the Case of Jefferys v Boosey 5 Examination and Internationalisation I. The Royal Copyright Commission of 1878 II. The Rise of Interest Groups and the Interplay of Domestic and International Copyright III. Conclusion 6 Infringement at Common Law: Drawing Copyright's Boundaries I. Infringement in the Eighteenth Century II. The Nineteenth Century III. Infringement at the Century's End 7 The Making of the 1911 Imperial Copyright Act I. The fin-de-siecle Years: Laying the Foundations II. A Musical Interlude III. The Imperial Copyright Act of 1911 8 Conclusion