Brehon Law and the Establishment of Copyrights

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

Copyright law actually began with the Brehon Laws of Ancient Ireland over 1000 years before it appeared in English legislation. It started and ended in a bitter and brutal dispute over royalties.

The dispute arose in 563 AD between two of the top contributors in the monastic schools of Ireland: Saint Colmcille and Saint Finian, each claiming to be the original author of a manuscript called ‘St Jerome’s Psalter‘.

Born in Gartan, Co Donegal, St Colmcille was a descendant of the Uí Néill (O’Neill) Clan. He was the son of Princess Eithne and his Grandfather has the honour of being the man who originally brought the slave boy who would later be known as St Patrick and gave him his name. Founding several monastic settlements during his lifetime, Colmcille left a lasting mark on the island of Ireland. His first foundation was in Derry and his last was on Iona…

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