Monday 25 May 2009

The Statute of Anne: a note on the 'original copy'

A lot of people who attend the International Trademark Association (INTA) Meeting each year turn out to be as much involved in copyright and other IP rights as they are in trade marks. One such person whom I met at this year's Seattle conference, US practitioner and creative live-wire Cathy Gellis, has just sent me this link to her thoughts on seeing the original Statute of Anne on display at a copyright history conference in London last year. Cathy concludes with a comment on the effect of copyright legislation on public discourse:
"So we find ourselves at the turn of the 21st century at the same crossroads we were at 300 years earlier, faced with a choice in how we use government power. Do we use it to enable public discourse, or to control it? For although our modern copyright systems trace their lineage back to the author-focused structure of the Statute of Anne, that basic structure alone does not determine which value is fostered. It's the underlying policy value that needs to survive, yet unfortunately today, while the document itself carefully encased under glass has, the historic change it was to herald has not".

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