Beg, Borrow, Steal – Art, copyright and the internet

Here’s a thought-provoking take on the controversial question of copyright and how old laws need to be revised to accommodate the internet.


Image of the Vermeer painting "Girl With a Pearl Earring" with a copyright symbol drawn over the face

When Shakespeare plays were originally performed, it was not allowed for audience members to bring in paper for fear that they would write down and steal the plays. To counter this, furtive audience members would go to performances and each remember different sections of the plays, then meet later and write down all they could remember. Each section was then stitched together, and the works were stolen regardless.

With the development of the printing press, pirated material began to be spread rapidly. Action was taken politically to attempt to stop intellectual property from being copied or stolen. In 1662 the Licensing of the Press Act was passed to restrict the reprinting of material without advance permission from the owners. This act planted the seed for the establishment of copyright law.

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2 thoughts on “Beg, Borrow, Steal – Art, copyright and the internet

    • You’re welcome. It’s a fascinating subject. A friend of mine says he doesn’t believe in copyright, but that writers should become troubadours again and that the money would be in the unique performance of a writer reading from her or his own work. As a writer of books myself, I’m not sure how I feel about it. I can see pros and cons on both sides. I do agree with you that the creator should always be credited.

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