Past historic 3: Copyright infringement and the tale of St Columba

The third item in the little bundle of photocopied articles on IP history which this Kat researched and wrote back in the 1980s, when he was still a full-time academic, was put together while he was a Lecturer in Law at Trinity College Dublin.  There he had the thoroughly enjoyable experience of calling on the resources of a wonderful library and of spending many hours in the college's celebrated Long Room, home to the Book of Kells.

The subject of this essay is the story of Columba -- saint, scholar and alleged copyright infringer -- and the ruling against him: "To every cow its calf and to every book its copy". Readers of this weblog will recall that its author had cause to return to the story in the course of some Irish copyright blogging towards the end of last year: you can access the follow-up by clicking "Wednesday Whimsies, or a Tale of Three Lams ..." here and scrolling down till you find "More on St Columba Again".

You can read "St Columba the Copyright Infringer" in full
here. It was originally published at [1985] 12 EIPR 350-353.

Earlier history posts in the same series

For "Past historic 1: how patents for invention came from Venice to England", click here
For "Past historic 2: Prince Albert and the Etchings", click here
Past historic 3: Copyright infringement and the tale of St Columba Past historic 3: Copyright infringement and the tale of St Columba Reviewed by Jeremy on Thursday, November 10, 2011 Rating: 5


  1. What an interesting piece, Jeremy! Thank you for letting us know about this story. Ignacio Marqués.


All comments must be moderated by a member of the IPKat team before they appear on the blog. Comments will not be allowed if the contravene the IPKat policy that readers' comments should not be obscene or defamatory; they should not consist of ad hominem attacks on members of the blog team or other comment-posters and they should make a constructive contribution to the discussion of the post on which they purport to comment.

It is also the IPKat policy that comments should not be made completely anonymously, and users should use a consistent name or pseudonym (which should not itself be defamatory or obscene, or that of another real person), either in the "identity" field, or at the beginning of the comment. Current practice is to, however, allow a limited number of comments that contravene this policy, provided that the comment has a high degree of relevance and the comment chain does not become too difficult to follow.

Learn more here:

Powered by Blogger.