Chapter 8: THE TERM DIRECTIVE
There are no eternal copyright and related rights. These rights are in nature time limited. As it is known, copyright has its roots in the privileges and regulations associated with the advent of printing in the fifteenth century. After Gutenberg perfected the use of moulded metal type around 1450, the Governments and Sovereigns of Western Europe decided to control the printing presses by granting permission to print (privileges) to particular persons in order to protect local printing industries against piracy and foreign import. The privileges were territorial in nature and were for a limited term of years. Initial privileges of the fifteenth century in the main protected the printer rather than the author. The first law to recognise a general right to the authors themselves to control the printing of their works was the British Act of 1710, which created a single regime for application both in England and in Scotland. The English Act gave the ‘sole right and liberty of printing books’, not to the printers, but to the authors of the books, and this right was time-limited: 14 years for newly published works, renewable for a further 14 years if the author was still living at the expiration of the first period. After that some other national laws were passed, all of them based on the same idea: that copyright should not provide an eternal protection. From the international perspective, there is no universal term of protection for copyright, even among the countries that are Members of the Berne Union.
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