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 Crucial to this activity has been a burgeoning focus on unpublished primary sources, enabling new and stimulating insights.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 19: Codified anxieties: Literary copyright in mid-nineteenth century Spain

Jose Bellido


Although there is a general consensus among historians that the 1847 Literary Copyright Act constituted the ‘first copyright law in Spain’, there is a surprising lack of studies on what led up to such an important legislative event. While this was the first law to ‘extensively and clearly recognise copyright’ in Spain, yet to be adequately explored is the actual, and vast, transition from the ancient regime to liberalism that made the act possible. Furthermore, relatively little is known about the political and legal framework that influenced the period between the enactment of the Spanish Civil Code, in 1844, and the drafting of a special copyright bill that was eventually submitted to the Senate in early February 1847. This chapter is a modest attempt to highlight some of the circumstances that paved the way for such a legislative proposal, tracing the events that brought the Senate to this portentous moment. A discussion of the contingent factors leading to the bill’s signing shows a number of interesting and distinguishing features of the political context in which the legislative draft was first written. For instance, it unveils the crucial intervention of the Royal Council, a group of advisers key to the Spanish Government, who were involved in the discussions over the future regulation of copyright.

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