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Copyright has not been around for ever. Here we will examine why copyright came about and how it has changed through different media.

Before the invention of the printing press a copyright law would have been unnecessary and absurd. With Gutenburg's invention of movable type a force so strong was set upon the world that within 15 years of his printing the Forty-two-Line Bible the printing press was established everywhere in western Europe except Scandinavia (Printing). Today we take for granted a free press. Almost as soon as the press appeared however there were challenges of censorship. The Roman Catholic Church began to ban books written by reformers. England's Stationer's Company operated by a royal charter (1557), which gave it a monopoly. Other monopolies of the press existed in France. Eventually it was seen that a free press was more beneficial than censorship but in order to protect the profits of the publishers copyright laws were brought about (Publishing).

The Statute of Anne, passed in England in 1710, was a milestone in the history of copyright law. It recognized that authors should be the primary beneficiaries of copyright law; it also established the idea that such laws should have only limited duration, after which works could pass into public domain. The designated period came to be set at 28 years. Similar laws were enacted in Denmark (1741), the United States (1790), and France that protected the work of native authors (Copyright)