Copies made in the Roman Empire were sold for personal gain, with no royalties going to the author.
Well, since the concept of royalties didn't exist then, that I know of, that is not surprising.
Of course, patronage was a factor. The matter at hand is whether it is appropriate for someone to suddenly claim a right to make money off of something, art, that was freely redistributable throughout most of the Christian era.
Well, I can think of several things on that. 1) the idea of people actually *making a living* through art but not as an employee (tomb painters in Ancient Egypt for example) or with a patron (lots of places) is not that old, I don't think. The rise of entertainment reading came as more people became literate. It was when education was made law in England so that more people could read AND the industrial revolution that made cheap paper available that there came to be more people who were professional writers, people who all or most of what they did for a living was writing (Dickens, Trollope, etc). There's also the advent of more leisure time, with some people not having to do as much to have the basics of life but I'll chase Thorstein Veblen back into the woodwork.
Also, the slaves you mentioned doing the copying still had to be fed and housed and given ink and parchment and taught how to write, so "free" is not quite accurate, I don't think, meaning no disrespect. The seller was making back some investment, may be.
2) the idea of people having "rights" was also a more recent developement from such people as John Locke and others.
3) A performer in ancient times expected *some* kind of return for entertaining: food, lodging, a coin or gift. They were providing something, intangible though it might be, and given something as payment. But there were no methods of recording then, each performance was unique. Now with recordings and net music we can have a private performance of music any time we may wish it and as many times as we want. By someone buying a record, a tape, a CD or songfile, they are in some way paying the performer and (if they listen to it alot, it's cheap on a cost per playing rate.)
4) Someone has created something that would not exist except by their efforts. They have done work to make something tangible or intangible. Again, I will quote "A working man is worthy of his hire." How is it wrong for someone to say "I'd like recompense for what I have done." ? How is that different from a skilled artisan who made something and was paid to do it?
Copying in the Roman Empire was done without the knowledge of the authors. In Martial's case, it was people transcribing his poetry at readings, and then going off to have said transcription mass-produced. The authors simply didn't see the need to grant permission, for it was obvious that they could claim no rights over the work once uttered. The only thing that irked Martial was when someone copied his work with someone else's name on it.
I can understand that. A song that a friend and I wrote was attributed to another lyricist (I do the tunes). I wrote and gave the correct information and all was well.
I wonder though at "obvious". If there was no structure to claim intellectual property rights, there would be no way to make any such claim.
One should also consider that copyright is a purely Western invention, while Orthodox countries still consider it ridiculous. Just look at the attitude towards media in Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, etc. And though one might want to attribute this to Communism, it's clear that it is merely a continuation of traditional thinking on the matter, for copying of works went on before 1917 just as now.
Well *why* is it "ridiculous"? It is a case of "thoughts are free" or "We want this so we can take it and make money off of others?" or some other idea?
There is also a wide field of what sharing/copying is. It could be one person's "This is great, I need to share it with others who don't know about it." Or "I want this music, but I don't want to pay for it." or "I want money, so I'll take something that someone else worked and slaved over and make many many copies with technology (which is new too, compared to, say, Martial) and sell them for my own gain." And I could probably think of others, but I have to go write something else.