Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Surprising History of Copyright and The Promise of a Post-Copyright World

"Dissolution of the monopoly might have been good news for long-suppressed authors and independent printers, but it spelled disaster for the Stationers, and they quickly crafted a strategy to retain their position in the newly liberal political climate.

The Stationers based their strategy on a crucial realization, one that has stayed with publishing conglomerates ever since: authors do not have the means to distribute their own works. Writing a book requires only pen, paper, and time. But distributing a book requires printing presses, transportation networks, and an up-front investment in materials and typesetting. Thus, the Stationers reasoned, people who write would always need a publisher's cooperation to make their work generally available. Their strategy used this fact to maximum advantage. They went before Parliament and offered the then-novel argument that authors had a natural and inherent right of ownership in what they wrote, and that furthermore, such ownership could be transferred to other parties by contract, like any other form of property.

Their argument succeeded in persuading Parliament. The Stationers had managed to avoid the odium of censorship, as the new copyrights would originate with the author, but they knew that authors would have little choice but to sign those rights back over to a publisher for distribution"

in reference to:

"copyright was never primarily about paying artists for their work, and that far from being designed to support creators, copyright was designed by and for distributors — that is, publishers, which today includes record companies."
- The Surprising History of Copyright and The Promise of a Post-Copyright World | (view on Google Sidewiki)

1 comment:

  1. So right - and it is the means of distribution that is being protected by this round of ACTA discussions - there is significant resistance to the democratisation of distribution which obviates the need for the so-called "middle-man" Defenciveness is the strategy as opposed to innovation and adaptation to the new business model.