Is the copyright era over? A view from the 18th century

Event date
30 November 2023
Event time
17:15 - 18:45
Oxford week
MT 8
Miles and Davis Room - St Peter's College

Isabella Alexander


Rapid advances in artificial intelligence have given a new urgency to questions surrounding the appropriate scope, scale, and role of copyright law. No longer the province of so-called stakeholders, their lawyers, and lobbyists, as well as scholarly ‘copyright nerds’, these issues are now the subject of wide-ranging inquiries around the world, and international summits here in the UK. At a time when the technology is evolving so quickly that lectures on the topic are almost out of date before the lecturer has finished speaking, this paper asks what we can learn from taking a more leisurely look back to the dawn of artistic statutory copyright in the early 18th century. Drawing on the early stages of a new research project, it will tell the story of the first statutes to protect copyright in engraved prints, and some of the early cases interpreting them, debunking some longstanding copyright myths, and asking ‘what is it we seek to protect with copyright law and how does that alter when both society and technology change?’


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