Colmcille and the Battle of the Book: Technology, Law and Access to Knowledge in 6th Century IrelandReport as inadecuate

Author: Ray Corrigan



Many hundreds of years before the GPL was even a twinkle in Richard Stallman's eye, an Irish monk proved to be an unlikely champion of the geeky A2K notion of access to knowledge.
The short version of the story of Colmcille and the battle of the book goes something like this - One monk copied another monk's manuscript.
The second monk objected and they settled things the way they did in those days, with 3000 people getting killed in the resulting battle.
The interesting thing from the A2K (access to knowledge) perspective is that there was an attempt, prior to the battle, to settle the dispute in the Irish High Court at the time; and remarkably, the arguments invoked in that hearing could have come straight out of one of the modern digital copyright disputes.
Have attitudes to law and technology really changed a whole lot in 1400 years ...

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