Copyright history has long been a subject of intense and contested enquiry. Historical narratives about the early development of copyright were first prominently mobilised in eighteenth century British legal discourse, during the so-called Battle of the Booksellers between Scottish and London publishers. The two landmark copyright decisions of that time – Millar v. Taylor (1769) and Donaldson v. Becket (1774) – continue to provoke debate today. The orthodox reading of Millar and Donaldson presents copyright as a natural proprietary right at common law inherent in authors. Revisionist accounts dispute that traditional analysis. These conflicting perspectives have, once again, become the subject of critical scrutiny with the publication of “Copyright at Common Law in 1774” by Prof Tomas Gomez-Arostegui.
Taking Prof Gomez-Arostegui’s extraordinary work in this area as a point of departure, CREATe is organising an international symposium on 26th and 27th March 2015 to consider the interplay between copyright history and contemporary copyright policy. Is Donaldson still relevant?, and, if so, why? What justificatory goals are served by historical investigation?, and what might be learned from the history of the history of copyright? Does the study of copyright history still have any currency within an evidence-based policy context that is increasingly preoccupied with economic impact analysis?
Confirmed speakers and participants currently include: Prof Gomez-Arostegui (Lewis & Clark Law School); Prof Lionel Bently (University of Cambridge); Prof Oren Bracha (University of Texas); Prof Hector MacQueen (University of Edinburgh/Scottish Law Commission); Prof Mark Rose (University of California, Santa Barbara); and Prof Charlotte Waelde (University of Exeter).
The full programme for this event will appear here shortly.