May 30, 2012

The History of Mandatory Copyright In Palestine and Israel

Michael Birnhack, Tel Aviv University, Buchmann Faculty of Law, has published Mandatory Copyright: From Pre-Palestine to Israel, 1910-2007, in A Shifting Empire: 100 Years of the Copyright Act 1911 (Uma Suthersanan & Ysolde Gendreau eds.; Edward Elgar, 2012, forthcoming). Here is the abstract.

The development of copyright law in Mandate Palestine and then Israel during the past century is a story of gradual absorption of a foreign concept, constantly searching for direction and guidance, slowly distancing itself from the original British roots. Copyright law was imposed first by the Ottomans (1910) and then by the British (1920, 1924), but both foreign transplants were premature for some time. Foreign players and technological developments were instrumental in the initial integration of copyright. Later on and more so in its new status as an Israeli law, the legal (trans)plant took a life of its own: although emerging from British sources, it was affected by international commitments, Continental notions of authors' rights, then by American utilitarian-instrumentalist concepts, and finally by the reconceptionalisation of copyright as a subject of global trade, all mixed up with various original Israeli additions. Thus, current Israeli copyright law is a complex patch-work. Here I retell these developments as a story of an on-going search for theoretical and legal guidance. The discussion offers a case study of legal transplants, by providing a legal-historical discussion of copyright law in one particular region.
The discussion begins with the Ottoman and British copyright laws, and then surveys copyright law since the establishment of Israel (1948). I trace the continental impact on the law and then a growing tendency towards Americanisation, culminating in the Copyright Act 2007, with a fair use regime.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link. 

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