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‘A Mongrel of Early Modern Copyright’: Scotland in European Perspective

Mann A (2010) ‘A Mongrel of Early Modern Copyright’: Scotland in European Perspective. In: Deazley Ronan, Kretschmer Martin, Bently Lionel (ed.). Privilege and Property: Essays on the History of Copyright, Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, pp. 51-65.

First paragraph: The copyright history of Scotland is generally seen to be a post 1710 phenomenon.1 English and European commentators, but also Scottish, have been guilty of this somewhat lazy approach. Scottish historians of copyright, such as they are, have however lauded the role of Scottish judges in the evolution of British copyright law in the eighteenth century. The significance of Scottish legal traditions and theory over the interpretation of copyright, helped lead, it is asserted, to the final judgment of the House of Lords in 1774. Certainly this interest in the "battle of the booksellers" has encouraged an output focusing on the eighteenth century.2 Not all though are convinced of the significance of copyright liberalisation. Recently in Richard Sher's excellent volume The Enlightenment and the Book (2006), a study of Scottish authors and publishing in the Enlightenment, he states that the "Impact of Lords copyright decision [of 1774] should not be exaggerated" and that trade expanded regardless of copyright.3 However, this takes no allowance of an early modern and perhaps "mongrel" tradition of copyright in Scotland which profoundly influenced attitudes to intellectual property, encouraged freedom of commercial exploitation and was a precursor to a surprisingly robust Scottish Enlightenment.

Copyright; History; Early modern; Scotland

Subject headings
Booksellers and bookselling Scotland

EditorDeazley Ronan, Kretschmer Martin, Bently Lionel
AuthorsMann Alastair
Publication date2010
PublisherOpen Book Publishers
Place of publicationCambridge
ISBN 978-1-906924-18-8
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