Friday, May 08, 2009

Copyright Through the Ages

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This week at the CODIE awards dinner for SIIA (Software & Information Industry Association) we got a preview of their newest anti-piracy campaign video- an updated version of their 1992 'Don't Copy that Floppy' classic video that certainly had everyone in the room laughing (either because we remember seeing it, we all really miss floppies or because the rapping 'Digital Protector' is just too much!).

Copyright laws are not new, it is just that as media evolves it different characteristics and capabilities that would have been unimaginable (even in 1992 when the floppy copy was an issue!). So it was with great interest that i came across this site about Copyright History which is a digital archive of primary sources on copyright from the invention of the printing press (c. 1450) onwards.

From the Scout Report Summary where i found the reference:
This website, initially funded by the United Kingdom Arts and Humanities Council, uses primary source material from Italy, France, Germany, the UK, and the United States to trace the beginnings of copyright. For each of these geographical zones/jurisdictions, a national editor was responsible for "selecting, sourcing, transcribing, translating and commenting documents." Documents found here include "privileges, statutes, judicial decisions, contracts and materials relating to legislative history, but also contemporary letters, essays, treatises and artefacts." To get visitors oriented to the immense topic at hand, a compact interactive timeline has been provided. At the bottom of the page visitors should click on "The Timeline Interface" to view the full timeline. Moving the gray vertical bar over each 50 year time segment will show all the copyrights for that 50 year period. A high arc in the time period indicates a lot of activity for that time segment. There are colored dots to indicate the country the material is from, and rolling the mouse over each dot will reveal the full record. The site is loaded with information, and various ways to search for material. Searching by "date" and "place" is one way to search. See the menu on the left side of the page to see the available search and browse options, such as "country", "original language", "person", and "place".

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