In 1796, Napoléon began his Italian campaign by invading the Kingdom of Sardinia at Ceva. Although he was unable to subdue Sardinia at the time, two other states, Lombardy and Venetia, were annexed and formed the Cisalpine Republic, which adopted French laws. In 1801, the Republic adopted France’s copyright laws of 1793, granting composers exclusive rights for the duration of their lives, plus 10 years for their heirs (Legge 19 Fiorile anno IX repubblicano, Art. 1–2; Repubblica Cisalpina 1801). In 1804, France replaced its system of feudal laws and aristocratic privilege with the code civil, a codified system of civic laws. The code left copyrights intact where they already existed but did not introduce them in states without copyright laws. As a result, only Lombardy and Venetia offered copyrights until the 1820s (Foà 2001b, 64), while all other Italian states that came under French rule after 1804 had no copyrights, even though they shared the same exposure to French rule, as well as the same language and culture. The empirical analysis examines rich new data on 2,598 operas that composers created across eight Italian states between 1770 and 1900.
original creator." It's important to remember that the broad social purpose of copyright and patent law is not to create "intellectual property" for the creator. Instead, the broad social goal as stated in the so-called "Patents and Copyrights Clause" of the US Constitution is "[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." In other words, giving rights to the author for a limited time is the tool, but the actual social goal is progress in science and art. The issue that arises here in both science and art is that new creations are often built on older ones. If an earlier creator is given too much power, or for too long a time, later progress of science and useful arts can be hindered rather than helped. In our modern economy, corporate ownership of intellectual property means that there will always be political pressure to extend and strengthen copyright and patent law to cover creations that are still bringing in royalties. It's important to remember that while such expansions of intellectual property undoubtedly benefit those who hold the copyrights and patents, they may hinder the creation of new innovations.
For some previous posts on copyright, see:
- "Absurdities of Copyright Protection" (May 13, 2014)
- "The Economics of Copyright" (March 22, 2012)\
- "Should Museums Own Copyright on Photographs of their Paintings?" (November 2, 2016)
- "Is Intellectual Property a Misnomer?" (March 29, 2013)