Tuesday 9 June 2009

Even Better Than the Veal Thing

Today is the feast day of Saint Columba, aka Colum-Cille, aka the Dove, aka Ireland's first reported copyright infringement defendant.

Columba (521-597AD), when visiting his former teacher St Finian of Clonard, copied a psalter, believed to be Psalms 31-106, possibly a copy of a translation by St Jerome. St Finian asked that the copy be returned to him, and when Columba refused, Finian took his case to King Dermott.

The High King's ruling is the now famous "to every cow its calf to every book its........." variously, "transcript", "author" or "copy". For more vellum-based facts on the case see uberblogmeister Jeremy Phillips' learned piece "St Columba the Copyright Infringer" [7 European Intellectual Property Review, 350] straight from the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin.

Patron saint of the Dioceses of Raphoe and Derry in Ireland, Dunkeld in Scotland, St Columba also offers protection from floods and is patron to poets and, of course, bookbinders. Copyright litigators should perhaps be added to the list.

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