Literature as Transnational Property. Francis Lieber and the Copyright Debate in the USA (AT)
Until the first International Copyright Act was passed by Congress in 1891, the US was what some describe as a 'pirate nation' – foreign works were denied federal copyright protection and could therefore be reprinted domestically without an author’s consent or financial compensation. Among those who rejected this stance on international copyright and lobbied for comprehensive protection of ‘literary property’ was Francis Lieber (1798-1872). Originally from Prussia, Lieber migrated to the US in 1827 and became a renowned author and publicist.
This project carves out Lieber’s standpoints concerning 'literary property' as well as national and international copyright through a systematic integrative analysis of his literary oeuvre. Lieber’s works are then examined within a transnational context to discern the reception and synthesis of foreign viewpoints. This project aims to ascertain the origins of a decidedly transnational conceptualization of ‘literary property’ to offer a fresh perspective on the prevalence of natural rights and author’s rights tendencies in the United States and to generate a deeper understanding of the transnational influences that shaped the literary and legal discourse of the time.