Copyright is not, as is often thought, something that is periodically
‘extended’ to cover a new field or medium; rather, copyright redefines itself
whenever its efficacy is challenged. While many factors have contributed to
this process, the most consistent has been the challenges created by new
technologies. The contributing authors build upon this insight to show that
copyright law is, and has always been, a creature of technology. Each chapter
focuses on a specific technology or group of technologies – photography,
telegraphy, the phonogram, radio, film, the photocopier, the tape player,
television, and computer programs – emphasizing the changes that each
technology instigated and the challenges and opportunities it created.
Perhaps the most profound insight of this extraordinary book is the authors’
claim – ably supported in a series of intriguing chapters – that the way the
law responds and reacts to new technologies is always mediated by the
political, social, economic, and cultural environment in which the interaction
occurs. For example, these chapters describe and explain how:
statutory schemes of remuneration arose from failures to effectively police
new forms of piracy;
persistent litigation and lobbying by copyright owners forces legislatures and
courts to devise new laws;
content (e.g., sporting events) generates new rules of access to broadcasts;
‘fair copying’ (e.g., by libraries) is the necessary exception that proves the
As well as providing insight into the ways that copyright law interacted with
old technologies when they were new, the book also offers important insights
into problems and issues currently confronting copyright law and policy such
as the appropriate scope of copyright and the relation between copyright and
the public interest. With the broad perspectives opened by these essays,
academics, practitioners and policymakers in the field will find themselves
well equipped to deal with the problems that will inevitably be created by
technologies in the future.
1. Copyright, When Old Technologies Were New; B. Sherman, L. Wiseman.
2. The World Daguerreotyped – ‘What a Spectacle!’ Copyright Law,
Photography and the Economic Mission of Empire; K. Bowrey. 3.
The Electric Telegraph and the Struggle over Copyright in News in Australia,
Great Britain and India; L. Bently. 4. The Phonogram: A Tale of
Vested Interests and Seized Opportunities; J. Okpaluba. 5.
Radio: Early Battles over the Public Performance Right; G. Austin. 6
. How Did Film Become Property? Copyright and the Early American Film
Industry; O. Bracha. 7. The Story of the Tape Recorder and the
History of Copyright Levies; B. Hugenholtz. 8. Making Copies:
Photocopying and Copyright; L. Wiseman. 9. Public Ownership of
Private Spectacles: Copyright and Television; B. Sherman. 10. A
Square Peg in a Round Hole? Copyright Protection for Computer Programs; P.