Copyrights and prints

In a broad historical and cultural view, copyright is a recent and by no means universal concept. Copyright laws originated in Western society in the Eighteenth century. During the Renaissance, printers throughout Europe would reprint popular books without obtaining permissions or paying royalties and copyright was created as a way to regulate the printing industry. With the emergence of the concept of artistic genius, copyright became enmeshed with the general cultural understanding of authorship. Later, with globalized capitalism, control over copyrighted works became centered in the hands of media corporations instead of authors and artists. Even as the internet and digital media rendered distinctions between original and copies largely obsolete, changes in the law tried to artificially maintain them. As a result, copyright laws over time have been transformed from their original purpose of regulating the publishing industry to instead regulating its customers, artists and audiences.
From Guide to open content licenses, Lawrence Liang, Piet Zwart Institute.
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