09 August 2018

BOOK: Elena COOPER, Art and Modern Copyright : The Contested Image (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018). ISBN 9781107179721, £ 85.00

Cambridge University Press has just published a book on the history of copyright protecting the visual arts.


This book is the first in-depth and longitudinal study of the history of copyright protecting the visual arts. Exploring legal developments during an important period in the making of the modern law, the mid-nineteenth to early twentieth centuries, in relation to four themes - the protection of copyright 'authors' (painters, photographers and engravers), art collectors, sitters and the public interest - it uncovers a number of long-forgotten narratives of copyright history, including views of copyright that differ from how we think today. As well as considering the distinct nature of the contribution of copyright to the history of the cultural domain accounted for by scholars of art history and the sociology of art, this book examines the value to lawyers and policy-makers today of copyright history as a destabilising influence: in taking us to ways of thinking that differ from our own, history can sharpen the critical lens through which we view copyright debates today.

Looks at legal developments in the making of modern law in relation to the visual arts, providing fresh perspectives and critical insights into copyright and its history
This book is based on extensive original archival work that uncovers unexplored facets of copyright history
Explores the contribution of copyright history to broader developments described by scholars of art history and the sociology of art


Elena Cooper, CREATe, University of Glasgow
Elena Cooper is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at CREATe, University of Glasgow, where she has been a postdoctoral researcher since 2014. Prior to this, she was Orton Fellow in Intellectual Property Law at Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge. Prior to her time at Cambridge, Elena was a solicitor specialising in intellectual property litigation. Elena is a member of the British Art Network organised by the Tate and The Institute of Art and Law.


1. Introduction
2. Art, copyright and 'authors', 1: 1850–62
3. Art, copyright and 'authors', 2: 1862–11
4. Art, copyright and collectors: the wrongs that artists commit
5. Art, copyright and the face: a nineteenth-century publicity right
6. Art, copyright and the public interest: galleries, printsellers and 'pirates'
7. Drawing conclusions: images of art and images of copyright.

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