Research Handbook on the History of Copyright Law
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Research Handbook on the History of Copyright Law

Edited by Isabella Alexander and H. Tomás Gómez-Arostegui

There has been an explosion of interest in recent years regarding the origin and of intellectual property law. The study of copyright history, in particular, has grown remarkably in the last twenty years, with a flurry of activity in the last ten. Crucial to this activity has been a burgeoning focus on unpublished primary sources, enabling new and stimulating insights. This Handbook takes stock of the field of copyright history as it stands today, as well as examining potential developments in the future.
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Chapter 15: El Salvador and the internationalisation of copyright

Jose Bellido


No history of copyright can ignore the role of El Salvador as a political experiment in the internationalisation of copyright. El Salvador served as a crucial test in the attempt to bring Latin America into the international realm. Moreover, El Salvador was used as a catalyst to trigger international copyright. Ironically, its role as a conduit for internationalisation was played while lacking any domestic copyright law whatsoever. In attempting to construct this history, the chapter focuses on the mediating figure of the Salvadorian diplomat, the Colombian émigré and former Venezuelan representative José Mar'a Torres Caicedo (1830–1889). Torres Caicedo took part in most of the copyright-related discussions held in the late 1870s and the beginning of the 1880s. He negotiated bilateral agreements and circulated drafts for multilateral treaties. He intervened at informal gatherings and cocktails, congresses and expositions. Above all, he became the president of the most important copyright association at the time, the Association Littéraire et Artistique Internationale (ALAI), which he chaired from 1880 to 1885. Torres Caicedo’s biography shows us a life full of repetitive episodes, a life of consistent ministerial acts and appearances. With his pencil-thin moustache, with his small, nervous body, there he was, always quoted in the relevant publications; he seemed to be everywhere. He appeared publicly and corresponded privately. His interventions were recorded in the minutes of innumerable meetings.

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