How does research into copyright’s history shape our understanding of copyright’s nature and its policy objectives, in both the past and more recent times? This question is explored through two discrete pieces of work.
First, the project responds to recent scholarship (Tomas Gomez-Arostegui’s Copyright at Common Law in 1774, CREATe Working Paper 2014/16, original published as 2014, 47 Connecticut Law Review 1) that claims that eighteenth century copyright history is of relevance to copyright policy debates today. Through a public lecture, roundtable debate and Working Paper, the project explores answers to the following question: what is the point of copyright history?
Secondly, the project involves original research into the relation between criminal law and copyright in the past and recent times; through a close reading of criminal law decisions in the mid nineteenth century and related legislative developments, the project seeks to cast fresh light on how we understand aspects of modern copyright and its policy. Today, copyright is thought to be primarily the domain of civil rather than criminal law; the steady increase in the role of the criminal law to combat intellectual property infringement since the late twentieth century has been a topical issue at both national and international level. In providing a historical perspective on these developments, this project counters the assumption that the role of criminal law in the domain of IP is confined to recent times and asks how this unappreciated dimension to copyright history impacts on how we think about modern copyright and its policy.