Thursday 4 October 2012

Colonial copyright: read all about it!

Colonial Copyright: Intellectual Property in Mandate Palestine, by Michael D. Birnhack, has just been published by Oxford University Press. This blogger has not yet seen it, though he is sure that a review copy will soon be available to the same publisher's Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (JIPLP). When this happens, 1709 Blog readers will be alerted so they'll have a good chance of getting their review request accepted. If you don't yet know Michael, he's a Professor of Law, Tel-Aviv University, Israel, and a not inconsiderable copyright scholar.

The book is quite unusual, and not a little intriguing. According to the publishers:
"When the British Empire enacted copyright law for its colonies and called it colonial, or Imperial, copyright, it had its own interests in mind. Deconstructing the imperial policy regarding copyright offers a startling glimpse into how this law was received in the colonies themselves. Offering the first in-depth study from the point of view of the colonized, this book suggests a general model of Colonial Copyright as it was understood as the intersection of legal transplants, colonial law, and the particular features of copyright, especially authorship.

Taking as a case study the story of Mandate Palestine (1917-1948), the book details the untold history of the copyright law that became the basis of Israeli law, and still is the law in the Palestinian Authority. It queries the British motivation in enacting copyright law, traces their first, indifferent reaction, and continues with the gradual absorption into the local legal and cultural systems. In the modern era copyright law is at the forefront of globalization but this was no less true when colonial copyright first emerged. By shining a light on the introduction and reception of copyright law in Mandate Palestine, the book illuminates the broader themes of copyright law: the questions surrounding the concept of authorship; the relationship between copyright and the demands of progress; and the complications of globalization".
More details of the book can be found on the publisher's website here.


Andy J said...

Call me cynical, but I look forward to readin a proper review, because I won't be rushing to part with £60 based on that piece of publisher's waffle. It hints at dark dealings by the Imperial power (how original in these post-colonial days) but I suspect from the slipperiness of the wording that there really won't be any unearthed skullduggery. This is not a reflection on the author, with whom I am not acquainted, or the rigour of his reearch. It just sounds a little too hyped-up to deliver what it suggests. If there really was something dubous about the imposition of this law on the colonies, how come it remains substantially unamended in the Palestinian territories today, and still provides a core for Isreali law?

Anne said...

I searched it on Amazon, and the Look Inside feature enables you to read a bit more. The select pages seem to indicate that the book has a complex answer to the points you make.