Brian L. Frye, University of Kentucky College of Law, is publishing The Stolen Poem of Saint Moling in Forgotten Intellectual Property Lore (Shubha Ghosh ed. Edward Elgar 2019). Here is the abstract.
It’s a truism of copyright scholarship that the modern concept of the author didn’t exist until the modern era. The medieval and Renaissance author was a vehicle for the text, but the modern author is the creator of the text. And in the 18th century, the Romantic movement transformed authorship into self-expression. This individualization of authorship enabled the creation of copyright. While the printing press made commercial publishing possible, the modern concept of the author created “literary property.” But is the truism entirely true? The concept of the author has certainly changed over time, and taken different forms in different places at different times. But is the modern concept of the author truly unique to the modern era, or does it merely reflect a particular literary economy? In other words, did our concept of the author create our literary economy, or did our literary economy shape our concept of the author? Surely, the answer is a bit of both. But a medieval Irish legend at least suggests that the modern concept of the author is only a particular expression of an economic phenomenon.Download the essay from SSRN at the link.