Shakespeare Wrote Without A Copyright

Literature and a market for literary works emerged and thrived for centuries in the complete absence of copyright. Most of what is considered “great” literature and is taught and studied by universities around the world comes from authors who never received a penny of copyright royalties. Apparently the commercial quality of the many works produced without copyright has been sufficiently great that Disney, the greatest champion of intellectual monopoly for itself, has made enormous use of the public domain. Such great Disney productions as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio, and Little Hiawatha are, of course, all taken from the public domain. Quite sensibly, from its monopolistic viewpoint, Disney is reluctant to put anything back in the public domain. However, the economic argument that these great works would not have been produced without an intellectual monopoly is greatly weakened by the fact that they were.

– Boldrin and Levine, Against Intellectual Monopoly, p. 31.

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