This book review compares two recent titles on copyright law: THE COPYRIGHT WARS: THREE CENTURIES OF TRANS-ATLANTIC BATTLE by Peter Baldwin, and COPYFIGHT: THE GLOBAL POLITICS OF DIGITAL COPYRIGHT REFORM by Blayne Haggart. Both books are meticulously researched and carefully written, and each makes an excellent addition to the literature on copyright. Contrasting both titles in this joint review, however, helps to reveal a few respects in which each work is incomplete; indeed, each book occasionally reads as a critique of the other. Baldwin’s book places contemporary debates in a much deeper historical context, but in so doing overlooks some of the unique challenges contemporary technology poses to the law as well as the historically unprecedented obstacles that contemporary law raises to some forms of socially valuable innovation. Haggart’s book, in contrast, maintains a narrower focus on the contemporary era, yielding a superior accounting of the institutional and social interests now at stake in the global copyright debate, but fails in some respects to appreciate the ways in which the much lengthier course of historical development constrains future copyright policy-making. The review concludes by suggesting some respects in which both books might serve as valuable guides for copyright policy-makers at both the national and international levels.
Timothy Armstrong, Two Comparative Perspectives on Copyright’s Past and Future in the Digital Age, 15 J. Marshall Rev. Intell. Prop. L. 698 (2016)