the Acts of Union made Ireland a part of Great Britain, and the extension of
British Copyright Law to Ireland the following year resulted in the
annihilation of the Dublin book trade, whose reprinting of British authors had resulted
in a flourishing industry in the second half of the eighteenth century. Around
the time of the Union, more than sixty print-trade professionals left Dublin
and emigrated to the United States, where they resumed their professions and
contributed significantly to the development of the trade in unauthorised reprints
of British books.
paper will characterise reprinting as an institution that is socially and
ideologically constructed in both Ireland and the United States as an
embodiment of republican ideals, and a bulwark against the proprietorial and
monopolistic attitudes inherent in the British system of copyright ownership.
It will show how immigrant Irish print professionals contributed to the
development of the American reprinting industry and an ideology based on the
widespread dissemination of useful information which sustained it.
paper will show how the radical ideological background of United Irishmen in
the American print trade was quickly assimilated into Jeffersonian
Republicanism, and manifested itself in anti-copyright practice and rhetoric. Politically
moderate publishers such as Mathew Carey are shown to be equally fervent in
their opposition to International Copyright, despite frequently paying British
publishers and authors in order to secure first publication rights in America.
example of a petition to Congress by a group of British authors in 1837 will
also be used to illustrate the terms of authors’ objections to unauthorized reprinting,
and how these were answered and rejected by American reprinters.
the evidence of this wholly unique transfer of one nation’s print trade to
another, we can see resistance to copyright on social and political grounds,
and the transnational significance that reprinting books assumes in colonial
and postcolonial locations.