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The History and Philosophy of Copyright


Want to know the origins of the concept of copyright? Here’s a 25-minute video from Filmmaker IQ that looks at the history and philosophy behind modern-day copyright.

While copyright may be crucial in the modern digital world creators live in, this has not always been the case. In ancient Rome, for example, artists and musicians were paid for their work and then “that was that.” Copying and redistributing art was just not a thing.

In the 6th century AD, however, the trend was bucked. When St. Columba copied a book, word for word, by St. Finnian, the victim of this plagiarism was not happy. Columba argued that the word of God needed to be spread, but when the dispute was taken before the king, it was Finnian who was found to be in the right.

“To every cow belongs her calf, therefore to every book belongs its copy,” said the king.

Unlike in modern-day court cases involving copyright, this particular situation resulted in a rebellion with 3,000 warriors killed in the Battle of the Cul Dreimhe in the year 561.

In an ever-evolving world, copyright has become an incredibly complex topic with many loopholes, gray areas, and other minefields that need to be navigated. Check out the full video above for an incredibly interesting journey through time and the evolution of copyright.