Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


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Cambridge, England, United Kingdom: Open Book Publishers, 2010.

Edited by Ronan Deazley, Martin Kretschmer, and Lionel Bently.

ISBN Digital (pdf): 978-1-906924-20-1

Contributors: Isabella Alexander, Maurizio Borghi, Oren Bracha, John Feather, Stef van Gompel, Friedemann Kawohl, Joanna Kostylo, Alastair Mann, Karl-Nikolaus Peifer, Laurent Pfister, Frédéric Rideau, Mark Rose, Katie Scott, and William St. Clair.

Also available at:


Open access material.

License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.


Includes sixteen essays on the origins of copyright.

First paragraph:

What is Copyright History?

History has normative force. There was no history of colonialism, gender, fashion or crime until there were contemporary demands to explain and justify certain values. During much of the twentieth century, ‘copyright’ history (the history of legal, particularly proprietary, mechanisms for the regulation of the reproduction and distribution of cultural products – as opposed to the history of art, literature, music, or the history of publishers and art-sellers) was not thought of as a coherent, or even necessary field of inquiry. It was a pursuit of individual often rather isolated scholars, not an urgent contribution to knowledge.