Myra Tawfik's book For the Encouragement of Learning: The Origins of Canadian Copyright Law (U Toronto Press, 2023) addresses the contested history of copyright law in Canada, where the economic and reputational interests of authors and the commercial interests of publishers often conflict with the public interest in access to knowledge. It chronicles Canada’s earliest copyright law to explain how pre-Confederation policy-makers understood copyright’s normative purpose.
Using government and private archives and copyright registration records, Myra Tawfik demonstrates that the nineteenth-century originators of copyright law intended to promote the advancement of learning in schools by encouraging the mass production of educational material. The book reveals that copyright laws were integral features of British North American education policy and highlights the important roles played by teachers, education reformers, and politicians in the emergence and development of the laws. It also explains how policy-makers began to consider the relationship between copyright and cultural identity formation once British interference into domestic copyright affairs increased, and as Canadian Confederation neared. Using methodologies at the intersection of legal history and book history, For the Encouragement of Learning embeds the copyright legal framework within the history of Canada’s book and print culture.
Jen Hoyer is Technical Services and Electronic Resources Librarian at CUNY New York City College of Technology. Jen edits for Partnership Journal and organizes with the TPS Collective. She is co-author of What Primary Sources Teach: Lessons for Every Classroom and The Social Movement Archive.
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