CREATe Working Paper 2014/16 – Copyright at Common Law in 1774

The twenty-sixth release in CREATe’s Working Paper Series is now available for download. Copyright at Common Law in 1774 by H. Tomás Gómez-Arostegui reflects on the original purpose of copyright, as reflected in a pair of cases decided in Great Britain in the late 18th century. The orthodox reading of these two cases is that copyright existed as a common-law right inherent in authors but revisionist work has challenged that reading and almost displaced the traditional interpretation. This paper offers the first critical examination of the revision, ultimately concluding that it is incorrect and that we must return to the orthodox view.

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