Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Copyright. Patented in Ireland.

The Statute of Anne came into force on the 10th April 1709 (303 years ago today). I mention this as it’s seen as the cornerstone of the anglo-saxon model of copyright (often contrasted with the more continental approach to intellectual property) and it’s a subject that I’m having to think about quite a lot in the course of my work.

I mentioned this to my mother recently. It’s very rare that I discuss anything with her without her finding some Irish connection – usually a connection with Mayo, or – if possible – a connection with the small north-western portion of that county.

I figured the idea of copyright couldn’t have been conceived by some fella from Tallaghan Bawn or anything like that. And, in this case it wasn't. But she was, obviously, happy to correct me any 'copyright wasn't an Irish idea in the first place' misconceptions I may have had:

“The first historic mention of Copyright, which set the universal precedent, can be traced to 6th Century Celtic Ireland. It is contained in a judgement of Diarmaid, High King of Ireland – the legal equivalent of today’s Supreme Court – in his finding against the Christian missionary Columba, founder of monastic rule, later canonised as Saint Columcille, who had become and incorrigible plagiarist......
....The High King took that well-founded legal precedent and extended it in his famous judgement against Columcille thus:
“As to every Cow its Calf, so to every Book its Copy.””