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Houston Law Review, Vol. 47, No. 4


Scholars generally agree that no definitive account can be given of the specific circumstances surrounding the passage of the Statute of Anne or the precise meaning ascribed to it by Parliament. The result was that its content remained hotly contested for the next century in Britain. Ultimately the model established by the Statute was abandoned in Britain, but not without first having significant effects in its former colony, the new United States. This paper explores the instability that the open texture of the Statute of Anne introduced into the new American copyright system, and traces the statute's footprints into the twenty-first century. The simple fact that United States adopted the Statute of Anne without agreeing then or since on the objectives and appropriate scope of copyright does much to explain the tortured history of copyright doctrine in this country, and the fervor of the modern so-called "copyright wars."

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