During the first decades of America's existence as a nation, private citizens, voluntary associations, and government officials encouraged the smuggling of European inventions and artisans to the New World. At the same time, the young republic was developing policies that set new standards for protecting industrial innovations. This book traces the evolution of America's contradictory approach to intellectual property rights from the colonial period to the age of Jackson.
During the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries Britain shared technological innovations selectively with its American colonies. It became less willing to do so once America's fledgling industries grew more competitive. After the Revolution, the leaders of the republic supported the piracy of European technology in order to promote the economic strength and political independence of the new nation. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the United States became a leader among industrializing nations and a major exporter of technology. It erased from national memory its years of piracy and became the world's foremost advocate of international laws regulating intellectual property.
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