The Early History of Copyright Law in the United States of America

The Early History of Copyright Law in the United States of America

The idea of copyright began with the invention of the printing press, which is largely credited for spreading knowledge to the layperson. It was meant to protect the authors of the book who in the past had to copy their books by hand if they wanted to reproduce them. Without the printing press they had total control of who their ideas were passed to in the physical form, the downside of this control was that it was time consuming and expensive to reproduce their work.Copyright was wildly violated in those times by printing press operators who sold bootleg copies of books for bargain prices. Back these bootleggers where considered criminals by law, but nowadays history classes look at them indirectly as heroes. Bootleggers had profound educational and social impacts of the printing press may never have been realized. Without bootleggers legitimate book publishers would have no competition, because their works were protected by copyright, so books would still cost the insane they did before the printing press. This violation of laws allowed information to spread freely though and without it the educational potential of the printing press may have never been realized.Today copyright and the printing press still plays a large role in education worldwide. Virtually every single book out there has a notice printed in the front of the book saying something along the lines of “No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system without prior written permission of [company name] unless such copying is expressly permitted by federal copyright law”. It has also grown beyond just print media to audio and visual media like music, movies and the internet.