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Fresh From FoRK:
In honor of Saint Patrick's Day, here's a reminder that one of Ireland's other patron saints, Saint Columba, may have pioneered the anti-copyright movement way back in the sixth century (A.D. 555, to be exact):
St. Columba had borrowed from the monk a fine manuscript of the Gospels, and Columba had made a copy of the borrowed book, before returning it. The monk claimed the copy also as his; the saint disputed this. His argument in defence reads not unlike the defence made by modern infringers of copyright: "I confess that the book in question was copied from the manuscript of Finnen. But it was with my own industry and toil and burning of the midnight oil. And it was copied with such care that Finnen's manuscript is in no way injured by the act of copying. Moreover, my object was to preserve more surely the best parts of the book and employ them for the greater glory of God. Hence I do not admit that I have done any injury to Finnen; nor am liable for restitution, nor am at fault in any way." But Dermot, the judge, as manuscripts were then new in Ireland, had no exact precedent, and he cast about for the nearest analogy. He found the Brehon maxim, "With every cow goes its calf", "Le cach boin a boinin"; and so his judgment was in favor of the monk, because "Le cach lebar a lebran", "With every book goes the young of the book". (But the saint, it is recorded, was
very angry at this judgment, invoked the power of a rival chieftain against Dermot, and thrashed him well in battle.) [Wigmore, John H., _A Panorama of the World's Legal Systems_, Washington DC, 1936, p. 677]
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