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Detail from Jane Austen's 'Mansfield Park'

Copyright is a bundle of exclusive rights granted to the author of a creative work such as a book, movie, song, painting, photograph, design, computer software, or architecture. These rights include the right to make copies, authorise others to make copies, make derivative works, sell and market the work, and perform the work.

Any one of these rights can be sold or licensed separately through transfers of copyright ownership.

Copyright rights are acquired automatically once the work is fixed in a tangible medium of expression – that is, recorded on paper, canvas, disk, or computer hard drive. Spontaneous speech or musicianship that is not recorded – a violin solo at a live performance, for instance – is not protected by copyright.

Murray, Gladstone and Dickens

Murray was instrumental in setting up copyright in the 19th century. Another friend and correspondent of Murray was William Ewart Gladstone. He first contacted Murray in 1838, when he was seeking a publisher for a series of papers on the relation between Church and State.

Gladstone contributed articles for Murray's Handbooks for Travellers although he made a greater contribution to publishing. Following lobbying from Murray and Charles Dickens, he helped to see through new copyright legislation. This protected publishers from pirate copies made possible by the opening up of new markets, cheaper materials and new printing technologies.

There is a topical resonance in Gladstone's comments to Murray that new legislation had been achieved:

' … but unless the proceedings of the trade itself adapt and adjust themselves to the altered circumstances, I can feel no doubt that we shall relapse into or towards the old state of things; the law will be first evaded and then relaxed.'


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