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Celebrating “copyright act” – 300 years ago the Statute of Anne was enacted

“300 years ago this week on 10th of April 1710 — the “Statute of Anne” was enacted in England. It’s arguably the first modern copyright law, and a key foundation for the United States’ earliest copyright statutes. Centuries later, copyright remains a critical institution that contributes significantly to our society and culture, and looking back at its origins can help us understand how it became what it’s today. Prior to the Statute, the British Crown controlled what books could be published. It gave a group of printers called the Stationers Company a monopoly over book selling and printing, and the government used its control of this group as a tool for censorship. Statute of Anne changed this system. For the first time, it granted authors rights to their works, and made it so anyone was eligible for a copyright. In this way, early copyright was anti-authoritarian and directly aimed at promoting free expression by shifting power to writers and away from printers and the state,” notes Google. If you’re interested in reading more about the roots of copyright and how they apply today, see this article on The Economist.


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