Kawohl and Kretschmer (2003)
|Kawohl and Kretschmer (2003)|
|Title:||Abstraction and registration: conceptual innovations and supply effects in Prussian and British Copyright (1820-50).|
|Author(s):||Kawohl, F, Kretschmer, M.|
|Citation:||Kawohl, F., & Kretschmer, M. (2003). Abstraction and Registration: Conceptual innovations and supply effects in Prussian and British copyright (1820-50). Intellectual Property Quarterly, 2(2), 209-228.|
|Link(s):||Definitive , Open Access|
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|About the Data|
|Data Description:||The authors investigate some early nineteenth century copyright laws in Prussia and Britain. During this crucial period, the rubicon was crossed between specific regulations of the book trade (characteristic of eighteenth century laws) and the general protection of creative works typical of modern copyright law.|
|Data Type:||Secondary data|
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|Cross Country Study?:||Yes|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
It is one of the orthodoxies of modern copyright law that the enjoyment and the exercise of the rights granted “shall not be subject to any formality” (Berne Convention 1886, Berlin revision 1908, Art.4), such as a registration requirement. In this article, we trace the origins of this provision to a conceptual shift that took place during the early 1800s. Specific regulations of the book trade were superseded by the protection of all instantiations (such as performances, translations and adaptations) of abstract authored work. For two seminal copyright acts of the period, the Prussian Act of 1837 and the UK Act of 1842, we show there was considerable concern about the economic implications of this new justificatory paradigm, reflected in a period of experimentation with sophisticated registration requirements. We indicate market responses to these requirements and plea for a reconsideration of “formalities” as redressing justificatory problems of copyright in the digital environment.
Main Results of the Study
After re-assessing the economic rationale for the registration requirement, registration is suggested as a policy option in the context of contemporary copyright laws under pressure from digitization. We have identified some sophisticated registration systems pioneered in theearly 19th century context when a dramatic conceptual shift took place away from specific regulations of printing towards a broad protection of abstract works. Pace Berne, these registration mechanisms should be subjected to a more far-reaching welfare analysis. Digital technology may not only facilitate copying, but also allow the creation and maintenance of databases defining modes of exploitation and rights claimed. Some of the energies of the entertainment industry’s anti-piracy campaign may be fruitfully channelled into such an enterprise. It may not be realistic to expect an imminent review of the international copyright regime following the integration of key parts of Berne into the TRIPS agreement of 1994 (now administered by the WTO). However, copyright enforcement in the digital environment depends on a certain level of normative consensus among its users. This could be achieved by a system of voluntary registration, specifying intended exploitation, with the aim to encourage unpredicted creative re-use of cultural materials.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
Registration was part of many early copyright institutional mechanisms, initially as a permission to publish. As an economic burden, however, it was not very onerous. It involved a decision over which works warranted protection (creating some opportunity costs) and modest fees to the registrar.30 In imposing opportunity and administration costs, registration increases the public domain to all works which creators or publishers do not consider valuable enough to offset these costs. Broadly speaking, any registration requirement reduces the number of works in copyright - by how much depends on the precise structure of the system. From the patent system, we may glean that there are at least two further ways of increasing the public domain effects of registration: increasing annual fees, and claims that specify the precise nature of the rights granted. From a public policy perspective, this trade off is welcome. Protection is only granted to exploitations that are commercially valuable (and might not have occurred without protection), while future authors can make free and creative use of a larger number of cultural materials. This tallies with a widely accepted economic and political premise that access to information is central to innovation and the fabric of open societies.
Coverage of Study
|Level of aggregation:||Country|
|Period of material under study:||Not stated|