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Colonial copyright: intellectual property in mandate Palestine

Colonial copyright: intellectual property in mandate Palestine

Birnhack, Michael D

The history of colonial copyright is often told from the view of the colonizers. This study of the early roots of copyright in the British Empire provides a sophisticated theoretical framework, contextualizing early copyright law as a form of globalization and examining its impact on colonial affairs and modern law

eBook, Electronic resource, Book. English.
Published Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012
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Statement of responsibility: by Michael D. Birnhack
ISBN: 0191746142, 9780191746147, 9780199661138
Note: Description based on print version record.
Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Physical Description: 1 online resource (xiv, 313 p.) : ill.
Subject: Law Great Britain Colonies History 20th century.; Copyright Palestine.; Palestine History 1917-1948.

Author note

Michael Birnhack is a professor of law at Tel-Aviv University, Israel. He is fascinated by the way the law treats information and the interaction between law and culture. His research focuses on copyright, privacy, and freedom of expression, which he views as different aspects of information. Before joining Tel-Aviv University in 2007, he was a member of the faculty of law at Haifa University, where he was co-founder and co-director of the Haifa Centre of Law &

Technology. He served on the board of several Israeli public bodies, including the Public Council for Privacy, the Ethics Centre in Jerusalem, and the Association of Civil Rights in Israel. Birnhack testified in the Knesset numerous times, on issues of copyright and privacy. He studied law at Tel-Aviv

and at NYU School of Law and prior to his academic career he was a news reporter (legal affairs) and news editor for an Israeli radio station and then a member of the founding team of Channel 2 Television News.


When the British Empire enacted copyright law for its colonies and called it colonial, or Imperial, copyright, it had its own interests in mind. Deconstructing the imperial policy regarding copyright offers a startling glimpse into how this law was received in the colonies themselves. Offering the first in-depth study from the point of view of the colonized, this book suggests a general model of Colonial Copyright as it was understood as the intersection of legal

transplants, colonial law, and the particular features of copyright, especially authorship.

Taking as a case study the story of Mandate Palestine (1917-1948), the book details the untold history of the copyright law that became the basis of Israeli law, and still is the law in the Palestinian Authority. It queries the British motivation in enacting copyright law, traces their first, indifferent reaction, and continues with the gradual absorption into the local legal and cultural systems. In the modern era copyright law is at the forefront of globalization but this was no less true

when colonial copyright first emerged. By shining a light on the introduction and reception of copyright law in Mandate Palestine, the book illuminates the broader themes of copyright law: the questions surrounding the concept of authorship; the relationship between copyright and the demands of

progress; and the complications of globalization.


This intriguing book includes both consideration of some major themes in law and society, and very detailed discussion of specific processes and events in legal history. ... the author has produced a fascinating book, which ... makes a major contribution to the study of Palestine Mandate law specifically, and Imperial copyright law generally. This book should be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in either the history of intellectual property or the legal history of

the State of Israel.
Arye Schreiber, Cambridge Law Journal||Its strengths lie in its meticulously researched accounts of how legal intermediaries in the Mandate first ignored copyright, relying on social norms rather than law to order their business affairs, and slowly began to mobilise copyright law to negotiate the novel legal questions presented by new technologies of public performance. ... The book's engagement with an array of hitherto neglected legal and archival sources in English, Hebrew and Arabic is a welcome

contribution to this fast-evolving sub-field of legal history.
Reynolds Richter, Comparative Legal History||The author has produced a fascinating book, which ... makes a major contribution to the study of Palestine Mandate law specifically, and Imperial copyright law generally. This book should be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in either the history of intellectual property or the legal history of the State of Israel. Finally, anyone exploring the law as a tool of colonialism and other instances of legal transplants will also find this book well worth the read.
Arye Schreiber, The Cambridge Law Journal||[A]n exciting read that reaches beyond existing studies on the history of copyright.4 It offers a sophisticated and profound analysis of copyright in a period and region that has never been explored. This makes Birnhack's book a ground-breaking work ... Birnhack has succeeded in making his readers think about the early days of copyright in Palestine and how lessons gleaned from this period inform the development of contemporary norms and principles of copyright

Lior Zemer, European Intellectual Property Review||A work that deserves attention from both copyright scholars and from historians interested in the legal dimensions of the British Empire.
Robert Burrell, The Journal of Legal History||Michael Birnhack's book is a highly stimulating study of how British copyright laws were transposed to its colonial territories in the early twentieth century...the book is to be highly recommended, and not just for those with an interest in IP law...[Birnhack] truly proves himself to be a legal scholar of some renown.
Luke McDonagh, Queen Mary Journal of Intellectual Property||Birnhack's fascinating and provocative account opens a true Pandora's Box; a series of haunting episodes always running in the background of copyright's history, whose traces remained buried in archives dispersed throughout the world...[Colonial Copyright] will become a useful reference as an initial and lucid attempt to provide a sophisticated theoretical analysis of colonial copyright.
Jose Bellido, Law and History Review||This is a groundbreaking history of copyright law in British-ruled Palestine in the first half of the twentieth century. Birnhack provides a rich and detailed description of emergence of copyright norms based on a remarkable range of sources. The story is told from a number of different perspectives - British, Jewish, and Arab - and contains many fascinating episodes and actors. The book will prove indispensable to legal historians as well as comparative lawyers,

students of nationalism and colonialism, historians of culture and technology, and anyone interested in legal globalization.
Professor Assaf Likhovski, Tel-Aviv University Faculty of Law||Michael Birnhack's Colonial Copyright breaks new ground in the increasingly popular field of IP history by moving away from a focus on Britain, Europe, and the US and probing how copyright norms were transplanted into colonial settings. In this fascinating account of copyright's operation in Palestine between the 1920s and establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, Birnhack provides a wonderfully-researched and legally-sophisticated account of how copyright was

(and was not) deployed in the fields of publishing, performing rights, broadcasting, and journalism.
Lionel Bently, Herchel Smith Professor of Intellectual Property, University of Cambridge||On the whole ... this book offers a sophisticated but readable presentation of copyright law that will work well for graduate courses and for scholars in the field.
Andrea L Stanton