Global Copyright
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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.
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Chapter 29: Formalities in the Digital Era: An Obstacle or Opportunity?

Stef van Gompel


Stef van Gompel* 1 INTRODUCTION For a very long time in the history of copyright, the coming into existence and/or the exercise of copyright was subjected to formalities of some kind. The first modern laws on copyright, including the 1710 UK Statute of Anne, the 1790 US Federal Copyright Act and the 1791 and 1793 French droit d’auteur decrees, all imposed formalities. To enjoy copyright protection or to enforce the right before courts, these laws required authors or copyright owners to register their copyrights, to deposit copies of their works or to mark these copies with some kind of copyright notice.1 These statutory formalities were maintained in later copyright acts, not only of the states just mentioned, but of nearly all countries worldwide.2 * Ph.D. candidate, Institute for Information Law, University of Amsterdam; LL.M. University of Amsterdam (2005). You are invited to direct any comments, criticism or ideas on this paper to: 1 See secs II (registration) and V (deposit) of the Act for the Encouragement of Learning (1710), 8 Anne, c. 19 (UK); secs 1 (renewal registration), 3 (registration and publication of a copy of the record of entrance in US newspapers) and 4 (deposit) of the US Federal Copyright Act of 31 May 1790 (1st Cong., 2nd Sess., c. 15); and art. 6 of the French Decree of 19–24 July 1793 on the property rights of authors of writings of all kind, of music composers, of painters and of designers (deposit). The French Decree of 13...

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