“Choking the Channel of Public Information”: Re-Examination of an Eighteenth-Century Warning about Copyright and Free Speech
copyright law, House of Lords, Donaldson v. Beckett, The Seasons
The U.S. Supreme Court in Eldred v. Ashcroft gave First Amendment importance to the topic of copyright history. In measuring whether Congress has altered the “traditional contours” of copyright such that First Amendment scrutiny must be applied, federal courts—including the Supreme Court in its 2011 Term case Golan v. Holder—must carefully examine the intertwined history of copyright and freedom of the press. The famous but misunderstood case of Donaldson v. Beckett in the British House of Lords in 1774 is an important piece of this history. In Donaldson, several lawyers, litigants, judges, and lords recognized the danger posed by copyright to untrammeled public communication. Eighteenth-century newspaper accounts shed new light on the free press implications of this important period in copyright law history.
Original Publication Citation
Edward L. Carter February 1, 2012 JIPEL Vol. 1 - No. 1
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Carter, Edward L., "“Choking the Channel of Public Information”: Re-Examination of an Eighteenth-Century Warning about Copyright and Free Speech" (2012). Faculty Publications. 4801.
NYU Journal of Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law
Fine Arts and Communications
Copyright Use Information