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Title: The metaphysics of the law : drawing the boundaries of copyright law 1710-1911
Author: Alexander, I. J.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2006
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This dissertation examines the development of the scope of copyright law in the period between the Statute of Anne, 1710, and the Imperial Copyright Act, 1911. It traces the transformation of copyright from the narrow right to print and reprint books for a maximum period of twenty-eight years in 1710, to the extremely broad right to prevent a variety of uses of numerous different kinds of work for the duration of the life of the author of the work and fifty years thereafter in 1911. The dissertation investigates the way that the boundaries of copyright’s protection were drawn and re-drawn over this period. In particular, the dissertation closely considers the evolution of the law of infringement of copyright and the exceptions or defences that developed through the case law and were finally enacted into legislation in 1911. In pursuing this investigation, the dissertation offers a focused examination of the ways in which notions of “public interest” were instrumental in shaping the contour of copyright law. The notion of a balance, or bargain, between the rights of copyright owners and the interests of the public has become something of a mantra in modern times for judges, legislators, policy makers, lawyers and academic commentators in the field of copyright law. Recent historical work has concentrated on the nature and role of notions of authorship in copyright law, while the meaning of “public interest” is unexamined, or treated as self-explanatory. However, this dissertation demonstrates that the concepts of public interest is as contingent and shifting as the notion of authorship. This dissertation traces these shifts through several eras of copyright’s development which have already attracted scholarly comment, such as the Statute of Anne, the literary property debates of the late eighteenth century, and the making of the 1842 Copyright Act. It also considers some less well-document aspects of copyright history, including the making of the Imperial Copyright Act 1911 and, in particular, the development of the infringement and fair dealing provisions of that Act.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available