Review: The Copyright Wars: Three Centuries of Trans-Atlantic Battle

The Copyright Wars: Three Centuries of Trans-Atlantic Battle The Copyright Wars: Three Centuries of Trans-Atlantic Battle by Peter Baldwin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ok, so a book about copyright sounds utterly uninteresting to most people. Why not an epic poem about curtains or an opera about nail-clippings? Seriously, it's not that bad and in fact Baldwin's book explains a great deal things about the origins of copyright, why it so damn complicated, and how it has been shaped in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe through interactions, trade agreements (and disagreements), and competition among the different countries. It's a history that to the emergence of printing as an industry and explains the origins of our most basic understanding about copyright, discussing such topics as what it means for a work to be inalienable (or alienable), what is the public's interest in protecting copyright, where did moral rights come from (and evolve to), etc. It's expansive in its coverage but clear in its detail. For anyone trying to grasp the complexity of copyright and why it is so problematic, Baldwin's book is a great route. Overall, I enjoyed the book though found at times, while the research was solid, he took time to editorialize and critique things that were a bit out of the purvue of the book. However, Baldwin actually offers a digital copy of his book for free on ResearchGate so if it is a text that may be of use to you (here's looking at you, librarians, scholarly communication scholars, lawyers, etc), you can always get it online.

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