Tuesday 19 March 2019, 17.00-19.00, Court Room, Senate House, University of London

Register here

Copyright was invented in the eighteenth century to give cultural producers property rights in their works, allowing them to live from their efforts.It was specifically intended to benefit those who worked independently, not for wages or salary. Work-for-hire was the only element of copyright dealing with salaried employees. That evolved only later in any detail, and then not equally in all nations. Work-for-hire gives employers — not the creators — most rights in works produced by their employees. It was introduced in the nineteenth century to deal with commissioned art works. Who owned a portrait, the painter or the commissioner? But it was elaborated in law mainly in the twentieth century, especially in the U.S., and largely at the behest of the film industry. It is not hard to see why. Film is an inherently collaborative art form, demanding cooperation among scores of different creators, all with reasonable claims to be important participants. (Peter Baldwin, Why Are Universities Still Laggards about Open Access?)

This event is a two hour discussion about questions of copyright and open access. This event is free of charge and anyone interested in the topic is welcome to attend. Registration, however, is required. Please sign up using the booking form.


Peter Baldwin is interested especially in the historical development of the modern state––a broad field that has led him in many different directions. He has published works on the comparative history of the welfare state, on social policy more broadly and on public health. Other interests have included Nazi Germany and historiography. His latest book is a trans-national political history of copyright from 1710 to the present. He has projects underway on the historical development of privacy, on the history of honor, and also a global history of the state.