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British Academy Lectures 2012-13Published in the online Journal of the British Academy$
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Janet Carsten and Simon Frith

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265666

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265666.001.0001

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From Hypatia to Victor Hugo to Larry and Sergey: ‘All the world's knowledge’ and universal authors' rights

From Hypatia to Victor Hugo to Larry and Sergey: ‘All the world's knowledge’ and universal authors' rights

British Academy Law Lecture read 11 December 2012

Chapter:
(p.71) From Hypatia to Victor Hugo to Larry and Sergey: ‘All the world's knowledge’ and universal authors' rights
Source:
British Academy Lectures 2012-13
Author(s):

Jane C. Ginsburg

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197265666.003.0004

Access to ‘all the world’s knowledge’ is an ancient aspiration; a less venerable, but equally vigorous, universalism strives for the borderless protection of authors’ rights. Late 19th-century law and politics brought us copyright universalism; 21st-century technology may bring us the universal digital library. But how can ‘all the world’s knowledge’ be delivered, on demand, to users anywhere in the world (with Internet access), if the copyrights of the creators and publishers of many of those works are supposed to be enforceable almost everywhere in the world? Does it follow that the universal digital library of the near future threatens copyright holders? Or are libraries the endangered species of the impending era, as publishers partner with for-profit Internet intermediaries to make books ubiquitously available? Does access-triumphalism therefore risk giving us not the universal digital library, but the universal digital bookstore? And, whether libraries or commercial intermediaries offer access, how will the world’s authors fare?

Keywords:   Authorship, Copyright, books, digital libraries, universalism, Internet, On demand

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