Michael Hart: Stationers’ Guild Oppresses the Poor

Project Gutenberg founder Michael S. Hart was acutely aware of the anti-progressive cartel-like aspect of copyright law. Hart was possibly the very first man who was able in 1989 to get the King James Bible freely distributed on the Internet. In his article, The History of Publishing, Hart states that copyright went through several phases which were reactions against technological improvements:

The Gutenberg Press Countered by The Statute of Anne, in 1709
The Steam Powered Press Countered by The US Copyright Act of 1831
The Electric Powered Press Countered by The US Copyright Act of 1909
The Xerox Machine Countered by The US Copyright Act of 1976
The Internet/World Wide Web Countered by The US Copyright Act of 1998

It is very notable that the corporate charter (1557) of Stationers’ Guild was actually issued by Phillip and Bloody Mary with the goal of censoring books deemed heretical.

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