From Maimonides to Microsoft: The Jewish Law of Copyright since the Birth of Print. By Neil Weinstock Netanel. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018. Pp. 336. $29.95 (paper). ISBN 9780190868772.

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Arts/Article reviewpeer-review

Abstract

After an introductory chapter discussing both the non-Jewish context against which Jewish copyright regulations developed and the emerging modern publishing industry (where ever so often Jews and non-Jews worked together on the printing of Hebrew books), the journey starts in 1518 in Rome, where the first of those many reprinting bans was issued by a rabbinical court. To add a little spice to the situation, the Viennese printer of this unauthorized edition was a Christian who had established a Hebrew press in the Austrian capital. [...]provoked by Rabbi Banet's written support, the infighting about copyrights between German and Austro-imperial rabbis turned into an opportunity for financial profiting of the non-Jew off the Jew. Even more misleading is the modern side of the title's alliteration. Since Netanel limits “Jewish Law of copyright” to Orthodox Jewish law, he consequently ends up on the modern end of the book in the Ultraorthodox town of Bnei-Brak, neighboring Tel Aviv. Here it might have been preferable to end the book with some non-Orthodox views, especially those of the Conservative stream of Judaism, which are especially interesting for their sophisticated combination of references to traditional Jewish sources and more modern legal and ethical requirements regarding copyright regulations.2 Exciting as these well-researched developments are, Netanel is a little weak on the historical background of the stories about Jewish copyright issues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-261
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Law and Religion
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

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