History of Copyright

Did you know that Copyright Law has its origins in Ireland? It began around 563 A.D. Yes, I was surprised too, and very interested in this subject as I am a published author now. Thanks to my husband, Niall, who told me about it. He is an experienced IP Lawyer in Ireland and the EU, and without his advice on many subjects, I would be lost as law is a complex collection of different rules and regulations.

The story begins with a dispute between two monks in sixth century Ireland. The two monks were St. Colmcille and St. Finian. St. Finian had written a psalter which St. Colmcille then copied and decided to keep without St Finian’s permission. Upon discovering this, St. Finian asked the High King of Tara, Diarmuid, to intervene. The High King ruled in favour of St. Finian. His judgment has come down through the ages and is summarised as follows:

To every cow its calf, then to every book its copy.

On this basis, the High King held that St. Colmcille had unlawfully copied St. Finian’s work.

King Diarmuid’s ruling is reputed to be the first time that the author of an original work was legally entitled to prevent its unauthorised copying by others.

You know that in Ireland you do not need to register copyright of your work because there is no register of copyright. As author, you automatically have copyright in your original work. It is therefore important that you date record before publishing and keep your original manuscript in a safe place.

All the best,

Tatiana

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