It's a long time since I studied that, Marcia,
but I will look it up. I suspect LIFE IN SHAKESPEARE'S
ENGLAND by (G.B.Harrison?) would be a good place to start.
What happened in Shakespeare's time was the actual
theft of manuscripts, as opposed to copying someone
else's work. It would have been a theft of property,
not something needing a separate law. One did have to
prove prior ownership, and that was done through the
registry. I believe it is a major source for the
dating/ordering of Uncle Willy's (et al.'s -- good old al.)
plays. I believe the registry only applied to titles.
I may be wrong but I believe the use of sides was a partial
attempt at keeping anyone but a few from having access to
the full script.
Copyright will disappear very soon because electronic conditions
are returning us to the world of oral culture under which the
ability to prove any particular sequence of words is virtually
impossible. The massive forms of copyright infringement
happening now are only the beginning. Think of it in terms
of anyone trying to claim ownership of individual words. The
idea is absurd. Just so the words to a tribal ritual or
dance could not be claimed by an individual.
Obviously the forms of language usage under electronic conditions
will be different from those of primitive tribal conditions,
but I expect all the forms of private property which the print
culture of the past 4-500 years made possible, will disappear,
may even become undesireable, for that matter.
McLuhan's GUTENBERG GALAXY would be a place to start on the subject.
Dr. Peter C. Montgomery
Dept. of English
3100 Foul Bay Rd.
Victoria, BC CANADA V8P 5J2
[log in to unmask]
From: Marcia Karp [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Wednesday, February 12, 2003 7:36 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Fisher King
Peter Montgomery wrote:
>Copyright in England anyway, started with the
>Playwright's registry to keep work from being
>stolen. Hogarth was successful in getting it
>transferred to his engravings by claiming they
>were dramas. I realise this is only a small as-
>pect of the matter, and speaks only indirectly
>to plagiarism, but let us not forget that Eliot
>was nothing if not an English scholar of the
The first English copyright law was The Statue of Anne, passed in
spring 1710. Hardly the Elizabethan era.
What Hogarth got transferred was an idea. The 1735 Hogarth Art (or
The Engraving Copyright Act) was a separate piece of legislation.
I don't know about the Playwright's registry or Hogarth's claim to
making dramas. Sound interesting. Can you point me to some sources?
In return, I'll suggest Mark Rose's _Authors and Owners: The Invention
Licensing (see Milton's "Aereopagitica") and manuscript ownership
(medieval pecia system) raise related questions to those raised by