Isabella Alexander, University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Law, is publishing 'Manacles Upon Science': Re-Evaluating Copyright in Informational Works in Light of 18th Century Case Law in volume 38 of the Melbourne University Law Review (2014). Here is the abstract.
Questions over whether, and if so how, copyright law should protect works of fact and information have occupied the courts of several common law countries in recent decades. In Australia, they recently came to the fore in two Federal Court decisions relating to telephone directories. While the Court paid considerable attention to nineteenth century cases, consideration of the eighteenth century cases on which these precedents were based sheds greater light on the later development of the law. This article takes a microhistorical legal approach and examines a series of cases relating to road books from the late eighteenth century to explore some of the earliest legal approaches to works of geographical information, placing them in their social and cultural context.Download the article from SSRN at the link.