The first copyright law was the Statute of Anne- created in 1709, described as an ‘act for the encouragement of learning’. The Act was passed as a step to break some the stranglehold the church and the state had over knowledge (more precisely the printing press and books) during the ‘Age of Enlightenment’ as we know it now. These first ever protections gave some control back to the creators of literary works from the publishers. After 14 years the copyright would revert back from the publishers to the authors.
Moving forward into the 19th century, the Berne convention, adopted in 1886, was the first Act of its kind intended to address copyright internationally. According to Wikstrom, (2009) “It was the French author Victor Hugo who was the strongest proponent for recognising authors’ rights internationally, which eventually resulted in the Berne Convention”.
This was the building block for the more recent Acts protecting IP in the UK- the most current being the 2004 Copyright Act.