Critical Writing
Publication Type: 
Record Status: 
Abstract (in English): 

Copyright is a legal sanction that grants monopoly rights to individual or corporate content producers with regard to the use of their productions. Copyright may include a producer’s right to be identifi fied as the author of her work, her right to control that work’s distribution (commercial or otherwise), and her right to restrict the production of works derivative of the original. Generally, any work fixed fi in a tangible form (e.g., a story that is written down or a song that is recorded) is eligible for copyright protection through the positive action of the producer (who files fi for copyright) or by default (as in the United States, where copyright protection accrues automatically upon the production of such a work). Copyright is one branch of intellectual property law, which also includes patent, trademark, and trade secrets law.

The history of copyright is inextricably tied to the history of the invention and innovation of technologies of cultural production and distribution. The widespread use of the printing press by the sixteenth century led to the regulation of presses (in the sense of the actual technology rather than the sense of “publisher”) for purposes of political censorship and reducing competition among printers. For example, the long title of a 1662 British law was “An Act for preventing the frequent Abuses in printing seditious treasonable and unlicensed Bookes and Pamphlets and for regulating of Printing and Printing Presses.” Even earlier, the 1556 Charter of the Stationers’ Company “gave the stationers the power to ‘make ordinances, provisions, and statute’ for the governance of ‘the art or mistery of [s] tationary’ as well as the power to search out illegal presses and books and things with the power of ‘seizing, taking, or burning the foresaid books or things, or any of them printed or to be printed contrary to the form of any statute, act, or proclamation’ ” (Patterson 1993, 9).

(Johns Hopkins University Press. All rights reserved)

The permanent URL of this page: 
Record posted by: 
Sumeya Hassan