September 8, 2009 by Kathy Bowrey
Kathy Bowrey is a Professor of Law at the University of New South Wales, Australia. She is also an IP Osgoode Research Affiliate.
Understanding copyright history requires an appreciation of legal history. It requires knowledge of the origins and debates around the ‘science of law’ and a sensitivity to the shifting politics of the courts and relations with Parliament from the 17th to the 19th century. Saying this is probably not welcome news to many IP Osgoode readers. It goes against accepted IP intuitions. After all, copyright is relatively modern. It is based in statute. IP policy issues and intangible rights are difficult enough without considering that old dry, arcane stuff about the time before modern law- before reliable case records, stare decis, scientific approaches to legal reasoning, modern legislation and treatises that defined and synthesised the principles of the legal categories.