History of the author’s right

Before the discovery of printing, the need for the right of the author was very weakly perceived because the professional authors were few and the number of handwritten copies was small.

From sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, police erected the printing-houses in monopoly, mainly to control the dissemination of thoughts and, incidentally, to guarantee the rights of the booksellers. No book was allowed to be published before a king’s letter of permission.

The existence of authors’ exclusive publishing right was first legally referred to in the US Constitution (1787). Written under the influence of Benjamin Franklin, its article 1 gives to Congress the power “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries“. This right was later developed in France and became the basis of the Treaty of Bern, the international law which regulates intellectual property at World level.

Under the rule of World Trade Organization which expressly refers to the Bern’s Treaty, it is in particular the source of intellectual property covering software ownership. Today, software is everywhere and the author s’ right extends to many fields other than arts and literature, covering most creative works. Importance of antique patent and copyright inevitably decrease.