First Copyright Infringement – Irish War 561

First Copyright Infringement – The Irish Copyright War – The war of Irish Monks.

St. Columba (521–597), Finnian of Moville (495–589)

First Copyright Infringement - The Irish Copyright War
First Copyright Infringement – The Irish Copyright War

The first known decision of what we now call copyright infringement was made by King Diarmait mac Cerbaill of Tara. When Colm Cille, an Irish monk later known as St. Columba, visited Abbot Finnian of Moville, his old instructor and mentor, he secretly copied a psalter, or book of psalms, causing a feud. Columba was well-known as a missionary, manuscript collector, and prolific scribe who frequently copied the writings of intellectuals he met. Finnian sought the copy after learning of Columba’s deed, saying that it belonged to him as much as the original. Columba turned down the offer.

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The Justinian Code 529

The Justinian Code is “probably the most important and influential compilation of civil and secular law that has come down to us from antiquity,” according to John Hessler, a research specialist at the Library of Congress.

The Justinian Code
This mosaic portrait of Justinian I stands in the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy.

Justinian I (483–565), Tribonian (c. 485–545)

Although the Twelve Tables contained the earliest documented Roman laws, following state-issued legal publications became increasingly important. The Justinian Code is “probably the most important and influential compilation of civil and secular law that has come down to us from antiquity,” according to John Hessler, a research specialist at the Library of Congress. Many academics regard this collection of legal works, which assembled practically the whole history of surviving Roman law in one location in the sixth century, as the root from which all later Western systems of jurisprudence emerged.”

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The Brehon Laws of Ireland c. 250

The Brehon Laws of Ireland
The Brehon Laws of Ireland

The Brehon Laws of Ireland, which have governed Ireland for almost 1,200 years, were described by noted legal historian and lawyer Sir Henry Maine as “a really extraordinary corpus of archaic law, extraordinarily pure from its inception.” The code was made up of the rendered decisions of Brehons, who acted as arbitrators when conflicts based on customary law arose.

They were “legislators, teachers of the customary law of the nation, expositors, interpreters, and keepers of legal traditions,” according to legal expert Josiah H. Blackmore II. Prior to the widespread invention of writing, the laws evolved over ages and were passed down from generation to generation by oral tradition.

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The First Law School – Berytus c. 250

The First Law School – Berytus (today Beirut, Lebanon).

The First Law School - Berytus
The First Law School – Berytus

Formal legal education flourished in the law school of Berytus (today Beirut, Lebanon) in the Roman province of Syria centuries before the first Western law school opened its doors at the University of Bologna (about 1088) and the first American law school in Litchfield, Connecticut (1784). Anton-Hermann Chroust, a classics and legal scholar, identifies the institution as the leading Roman law school from Diocletian’s (284–305) to Justinian’s (527–565) reigns, calling it “the midwife of all laws” by the latter emperor, despite the fact that Rome and Constantinople (after 425) had their own law schools.

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The Talmud c. 180

The Talmud c. 180

The Talmud Hour (c. 1900) by German painter J. Scheich
The Talmud Hour (c. 1900) by German painter J. Scheich

The Torah, which consists of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, is the cornerstone of Jewish law. Jews meditated on and discussed the Torah and its lessons until the sixth century BCE, creating and preserving an oral legacy that supplemented the written word. Then came a protracted period of Jewish subjugation and exile, which began with the Babylonians and ended with the Romans. As the survival of an oral tradition became more precarious, sages and academics began to record it, eventually resulting in the Talmud.

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The Trial of Socrates 399 BCE

The Trial of Socrates is a story about Socrates which took place in the year 399 BCE

Trial of Socrates
Trial of Socrates

Socrates (c. 470–399 BCE) was a Greek philosopher who lived from c. 470 to 399 BCE.

Socrates’ trial pitted a “squat, unattractive, barefoot man… with bulging eyes, large lips, and a pot belly” against Athenian democracy’s tenets. The renowned teacher and philosopher was accused of “impiety,” for neglecting to recognize the Athenian gods, for creating new deities, for corrupting the youth, and for putting the state in jeopardy.

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The Twelve Tables 450 BCE

The Twelve Tables 450 BCE

The Twelve Tables
The Twelve Tables

Roman law, like that of other ancient civilizations, sprang from an oral heritage of customs passed down down the generations. The nobility and commoners of Rome agreed to a commission of ten jurists, the decemviri, to consolidate and codify the laws in the mid-fifth century BCE. As a result, the Twelve Tables, the earliest documented Roman laws, were created.

The Twelve Tables were inspired by the ongoing feud between Rome’s patrician and plebeian classes, who objected to the patricians’ arbitrary interpretation and execution of the law, hoping that a written rule would temper, if not eliminate, such behaviors.

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