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Global Copyright

Global Copyright

Three Hundred Years Since the Statute of Anne, from 1709 to Cyberspace

Edited by Lionel Bently, Uma Suthersanen and Paul Torremans

This innovative book celebrates the tri-centenary of modern copyright, which began with the enactment of the Statute of Anne by the British Parliament in 1709, and was soon followed by other copyright legislation abroad. The Statute of Anne is traditionally claimed to be the world’s first copyright statute, and is thus viewed as the origin of a system of national laws that today exists in virtually all countries of the world. However, this book illustrates that while there is some truth in this claim, it is also important to treat it with caution.

Chapter 3: What’s New About the Statute of Anne? Or Six Observations in Search of an Act

Ronan Deazley

Subjects: law - academic, intellectual property law


Ronan Deazley* INTRODUCTION 1 When I was invited to present at the ALAI Congress 2009, the broad focus of my paper had been predetermined. One of the conference organisers wrote to me asking ‘whether [I] would talk about the impact of [the] Statute of Anne, and in particular whether there is anything “new” in the sense of the lessons that the Statute teaches us’ in relation to contemporary copyright law. In short, my brief was to consider the following question: ‘What’s new about the Statute of Anne?’ As the time approached for writing this paper, and while conscious of remaining within my prescribed brief, I decided to grant myself the indulgence of a subtitle: Six Observations in Search of an Act. That subtitle, of course, is taken from Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, nor am I the first within the copyright community to draw upon Pirandello. David Nimmer, in his lengthy article on ‘Copyright in the Dead Sea Scrolls’, presented ‘Six Case Studies in Search of an Author’.1 More recently, Jane Ginsburg, in her comparative analysis of the concept of authorship in copyright law, elaborated ‘Six Principles in Search of an Author’, while at the same time alerting us to the fact that ‘[r]eferences in copyright scholarship to Pirandello risk becoming trite’.2 While heedful of Prof Ginsburg’s warning, I would nevertheless like to play out the use of Pirandello one more time. Indeed, I would tentatively offer a number of substantive synergies between this...

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