Copyright disputes in the 1840s

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10 Responses to “Copyright disputes in the 1840s”

  1. Bronco46 says:

    Mr. Dickens problem should have been with his own government. Issues like this are settled by international treaty not in the court of public opinion.

  2. jeligula says:

    It seems he had a stratospheric opinion of himself. Writers are just like everybody else, only more so because they spend so much time alone and their principle traits magnify themselves.

  3. Anonymous says:

    There is a good and fictional account of Dickens and the agressive copywrite violators back in his days. It is called “The Last Dickens” by Mathew Pearl. Just finished it the other day.

  4. CaptainKabob says:

    Anon #2: Matthew Pearl is an awesome scholar on early copyright. Here are some notes from a lecture he gave on copyright in the 19th century and where the rhetoric of copyright “pirates” came from:

    http://www.island94.org/2007/04/copyright-and-the-nineteenth-century/

  5. Anonymous says:

    He makes a good argument.

  6. Joe says:

    jelgula, what you miss is that in Dickens’ time, the US was a complete “pirate nation”: foreign copyrights and patents were not honored. That means that American publishers sold Dickens’ works without paying him a dime.

    And Dickens was the best-selling author in America. He finally figured out how to make some money off the Yanks, by going on lecture tours.

  7. Joe says:

    Anonymous #2, the American publishers at the time weren’t violating any copyrights, because Dickens had no copyright. Anything written outside the US was public domain in the US, fit for anyone to “steal”.

    This wasn’t changed until 1891.

  8. Milktoast_Souffle says:

    he makes a good argument against concurrent copying of copyrighted material but I think that was legally decided in his favor a century ago. It is the laws that came out post those that are the real problem with copyright and what the majority of the argument these days is about.

    One could even argue that with out Dickens falling into public domain, Dickens would not be as popular today as he is for were the body of his works not in public domain it would take a corporate interest to keep him in popular culture.

  9. Ugly Canuck says:

    Wow, some swings of the pendulum arc through several generations, huh?

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