In Praise of Copying by Marcus Boon. A very interesting free read. Go ahead and copy.
Copying seems to manifest as a pressing issue at moments where there is a radical shift in societies. The Statute of Anne of 1709, the first copyright law, was in part a rearguard effort to protect the rights of the Stationers Company in the face of the effects of the English Revolution; copyright and patent law was inscribed in Article 1, section 8 of the U.S. Constitution (1787), and in a law of 1793 in France; the Russian Revolution was accompanied by a variety of changes to copyright law (which had hitherto been in line with those of bourgeois European law), including a 1923 decree nationalizing the works of authors such as Tolstoy, Gogol, and Chekhov.
Why should this be so? Not necessarily because at such moments more people are engaged in acts of copying or the production of copies, but because the ideologies that sustain the illusion of the permanence and naturalness of a particular society disintegrate, revealing the various processes which actually sustain such societies. Such as imitation. Clearly, we are living through such a shift right now, but without any particular sustaining vision of what lies beyond. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Rather than coming up with a new illusion and trademarking it, we have an opportunity to recognize what our situation consists of. “Copying” is just one word in one language, an apparently trivial matter—yet, for reasons which I will explore, an activity that exceeds itself in every way, opening up to a vastness as surprising as it is undeniable. Copying>>