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‘MERELY MECHANICAL’: ON THE ORIGINS OF PHOTOGRAPHIC COPYRIGHT IN FRANCE AND GREAT BRITAIN

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The invention of the medium of photography and its commercialization as a cheap multiple during the 1850s and 1860s led to challenges to extant copyright laws in France and Great Britain. This paper traces the ways that debates over photographic copyright confronted current understandings of originality and mechanization and repeated arguments that had already been raised by laws governing prints and casts. The British Fine Arts Copyright Act of 1862, which extended statutory protection to all photographs, is contrasted with French cases, which struggled to accommodate photographs within the fine arts as defined by the copyright law of 1793.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Princeton University

Publication date: 2008-02-01

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