The Statute of Anne

Okay, sorry SCOTUS. I didn’t mean to be so harsh. I have great respect for y’all, and I understand that the current court is enforcing laws created by its predecessors. Some of your precedent I’m not too fond of, but that can be a later gripe. Right now I’ll just dream of the day when I will finally make it down to DC on my Lawful Good pilgrimage, and let it be.

England, however. You’ve got another thing coming. The whole idea of Copyright started in the way back 1709 in Great Britain, when – having gained the ability to manufacture the printed word – the competing publishing houses were struggling to obtain exclusive rights to those publications so that they could…. you guessed it, make money. I could wax poetic about the struggle of the houses and the history involved, a history that – given my background – I adored, but the point is made without it. The current culture of copyright is not our fault, nor is it our Congress’s fault or the corporations who can lobby to change the law. It’s the “fault” of a culture long gone that determined that because the technology of printing was expensive, in order to make it worthwhile to print, they wanted assurances – legal assurances – that their methods and product were protected. Queen Anne humored them, and in doing so, guaranteed a profit was to be made from consumer’s want for the printed material. (Oh, and by the way, the printing houses owned the manuscript, not the author. Funny how some things never change…)

So what does that mean for our modern culture of copyright?

In my third year of law school, second semester – I took an independent study course (Contemporary Issues in Modern Law, or something like that) that allowed me to put together a 15 minute presentation on any topic of law of my choice. My professor wanted it to be an accessible explanation of our topic, something akin to I would say to a friend at a party if they asked about the subject. Given that I had then and have since been cornered at numerous social events to talk with people about the Copyright Law and how I see it as both an artist and an attorney, I created this video. I hope you enjoy.

If you want to see the academic version of this video (Abstract, references, etc) or the paper I wrote for my Advanced Copyrights course – check my youtube pages – User EntertainerEsq. (I’ll get a link here eventually.)


(c) Nicole L. M. Jurkowski 2010


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