From Maimonides to Microsoft: The Jewish Law of Copyright Since the Birth of Print

ISBN : 9780195371994

Neil Weinstock Netanel; David Nimmer
336 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Mar 2016
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Jewish copyright law is a rich body of copyright doctrine and jurisprudence that developed in parallel with Anglo-American and Continental European copyright laws and the printers' privileges that preceded them. Jewish copyright law traces its origins to a dispute adjudicated in 1550, over 150 years before modern copyright law is typically said to have emerged with the Statute of Anne of 1709. It continues to be applied today, notably in a rabbinic ruling outlawing pirated software, issued at Microsoft's request. In From Maimonides to Microsoft, Professors Netanel and Nimmer trace the development of Jewish copyright law by relaying the stories of five dramatic disputes, running from the sixteenth century to the present. They describe each dispute in its historical context and examine the rabbinic rulings that sought to resolve it. Remarkably, these disputes address some of the same issues that animate copyright jurisprudence today: Is copyright a property right or a limited regulatory prerogative? What is copyright's rationale? What is its scope? How can copyright be enforced against an infringer who is beyond the applicable legal authority's reach? This book introduces copyright scholars, students, and practitioners to an entirely new narrative and body of copyright jurisprudence. Presenting new material regarding the operation of the Jewish book trade and some of the leading disputes affecting it, Professors Netanel and Nimmer examine how copyright disputes arose from their respective historical contexts and, in turn, reverberated through Jewish life. From Maimonides to Microsoft examines how one area of Jewish law has developed in historical context and how Jewish copyright law compares with its Anglo-American and Continental European counterparts.


Note Regarding Translation and Transliteration
1 Introduction: Microsoft in Bnei Brak
2 From Privileges and Printers' Guilds to Copyright
3 Rabbinic Reprinting Bans: Between Ktav Da'at and Privilege
4 Maharam of Padua versus Giustiniani: Rival Editions of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah
5 Rabbinic Reprinting Bans Take Hold
6 From a Yiddish Bible to a German Prayer Book
7 Internecine Battles and the Slavuta Talmud
8 Moving Beyond Reprinting Bans: From Property to the Law of the Sovereign
9 The Present-Day Debate: Is Copyright Infringement "Stealing"?

About the author: 

Neil Weinstock Netanel is the Pete Kameron Endowed Chair in Law at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law where he writes and teaches in the areas of copyright, international intellectual property, and media and telecommunications. Prior to joining UCLA, Netanel served for a decade on the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, where he was the Arnold, White & Durkee Centennial Professor of Law. He has also taught at the law schools of Harvard University, Haifa University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv University, the University of Toronto, and New York University. He authored Copyright's Paradox (Oxford, 2008; Paperback, 2010); and he edited The Development Agenda: Global Intellectual Property and Developing Countries (Oxford, 2008).; David Nimmer is a Professor from Practice at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law, and Of Counsel to the law firm of Irell & Manella. Since 1985, Professor Nimmer has updated and revised Nimmer on Copyright, the standard reference treatise in the field, regularly relied upon as an authority by courts and commentators the world over. He is also the author of Copyright: Sacred Text, Technology and the DMCA (2003).

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