This volume discusses how proprietary notions increasingly dominated copyright legal principles, with consequences for information dissemination in modern times. It covers the period to 1850, and begins with extracts from Roman law and early Christian and medieval teaching on ownership. The volume traces philosophical arguments about copyright law, reproducing writings of John Milton and John Locke on freedom of expression, and copyright justifications supplied by the idealist philosophers Johann Fichte and Immanuel Kant. Readings explain how the developments that created the social and political systems of modern Britain and the United States also produced the beginnings of the modern system of copyright regulation. The volume highlights seminal works of leading US copyright scholars Lyman Ray Patterson, Benjamin Kaplan and Mark Rose, and includes correspondence of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison on copyright policy.