Do Unto Others as St. Columba Would Do Unto You

imageWe’ve discussed copyright here on occasion. And Colin Berry has accused me of piracy and Barrie Schwortz of unseemly something or other. Well, read on for some perspective. Matt Rubinstein has an interesting article in The Australian Book Review called Body and Soul: the age of the electronic book: Copyright law and enforcement in the age of the electronic book:

The most precious manuscript held by the Royal Irish Academy is RIA MS 12 R 33, a sixth-century book of psalms known as an Cathach (The Battler’), or the Psalter of St Columba. It is believed to be the oldest extant Irish psalter, the earliest example of Irish writing – and the world’s oldest pirate copy. According to tradition, St Columba secretly transcribed the manuscript from a psalter belonging to his teacher, St Finian. Finian discovered the subterfuge, demanded the copy, and brought the dispute before Diarmait, the last pagan king of Ireland. The king decreed that ‘to every cow belongs her calf’, and so the copy of a book belonged to the owner of the original. Columba appealed the decision on the battlefield, and defeated Finian in a bloody clash at Cúl Dreimhne. No trace remains of Finian’s original manuscript, if it ever existed. Only ‘The Battler’ survives.

The sword is mightier than the . . .

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