"Because so many recent cases involve digital
technology, we might assume that these are new issues, that
copyright in an analog world was relatively stable and
non-controversial. But in fact, copyright was not only one of the
most lively subjects of debate among our Founding Fathers. The
values that copyright reflects echo with the very principles of the
American Revolution and Constitutional Convention.
At its birth in England, copyright was an instrument of
censorship. In 1557, the Catholic Queen Mary Tudor capped off a
120-year monarchal struggle to censor printing presses in England
by issuing a charter to the Stationers? Company, a guild of
printers. Only members of the company could legally produce books.
The only books they would print were approved by the Crown.
In contrast, the American copyright system since 1791 has
reflected American republican values. While it granted a limited,
temporary monopoly to a specific publisher, American copyright grew
to embody four democratic safeguards...."