Sunday, February 19, 2012

"The wizard harp of the North" and International Copyright

So it appears that posts on international copyright in the nineteenth century are like buses: you wait and wait and then two come along at once.

Both David Malki at Wondermark and Rob Vellela at The American Literary Blog have fascinating bits up that touch on different aspects of the international copyright issue as it played out in 1842, but both highlight the Transatlantic literary tensions generated by its absence. The moment that I found most arresting, though, came from an  article in the North American Review, described as a "Petition of certain Legal Voters of Boston and its Vicinity [...] praying for the Passage of an International Copyright." Its author(s) upbraid American readers for their attachment to cheap pirated editions that pay no royalties to British authors, and then turn to the specific example of Walter Scott:
 American readers to blame for Scott's death? There's food for thought.