Skip main navigation
We use cookies to give you a better experience, if that’s ok you can close this message and carry on browsing. For more info read our cookies policy.
We use cookies to give you a better experience. Carry on browsing if you're happy with this, or read our cookies policy for more information.

Skip to 0 minutes and 7 secondsWe will now look closer at the picture mentioned in step five and outline areas where we can observe clusters of elements such as changes in technology, labour forces, political organisation, legal systems, as well as economic rules and practises. All these aspects constitute a network of cause and effect events that move society forward, creating new understandings about life, past experiences, and future perspectives. With this, you'll be able to build your knowledge of authors' rights on firm foundations, asking informed questions about what is discussed, instead of just accepting ideas and concepts as presented. This is called thinking critically! We have shown that our story begins with Gutenberg's printing press, but this invention was also a sociological turning point for the world.

Skip to 1 minute and 1 secondThis movable-type printing technology brought about a great wave of social change by encouraging people to learn to read and write. In turn, this increased communication, promoted political challenges, while economic change was driven by new commercial activity. What else could we observe in the second half of the 15th century as an effect of this great social change? Were there other inventions and intellectual improvements that themselves, provoked further changes? Let's consider some other events that came about as a consequence of the intellectual growth and innovative spirit of this period. In 1450, the first patent legal system was created in Venice. The system operated as a privilege of exclusivity granted by authorities to certain individuals for a certain period of time.

Skip to 1 minute and 54 secondsIt related to any new and ingenious device not previously made or known, provided it was useful. The privilege was justified by the need to reward inventors for their inventions and encourage them to continue developing useful, intellectual activities. Thus, those who held the ruling power understood that intellectual improvement was positive and important. Around the same time, the Portuguese introduced the caravel. This small, but highly manoeuvrable sailing ship, made exploration voyages into the Atlantic far more efficient. Thanks to this innovation and the intellectual efforts of those that believe they could shape their own future and destiny, a new world was discovered.

Skip to 2 minutes and 39 secondsLate in the 15th century, following the unification of the Crowns of Castile and Aragon, and after conquering the Moorish kingdom, a modern Spain emerged. This nation soon became fully committed to the search for new trade routes, and in 1492 the Crown decided to fund an expedition by Christopher Columbus. Aside from showing their obedience to God and the church with these acts, the Catholic kings we're also showing faith in man. They believed in the capacity to develop new skills and techniques that could feed the Crown's power.

Skip to 3 minutes and 15 secondsNicolaus Copernicus was a mathematician and astronomer born in 1473. He developed a theory, rather than an invention, but the huge impact it had on the scientific thinking of his time, continued even after his death in 1543. His theory sought to prove that the sun was the centre of the universe and not the Earth, as everyone had believed. This constituted a complete transformation of the accepted world view. The way that man looked at the stars was forever changed as the result of just one individual's intellectual efforts.

Gutenberg and innovation

In this video, you will learn about the important events of the 15th and 16th century that changed people’s ideas about human achievement and the environment in which they lived.

This change in mindset created a new behaviour towards intellectual activity. It began a long phase of technological development and increased belief in knowledge as a tool to achieve better living conditions.

We will build upon this story by focusing on innovation, technological development and its impact on social life at the time.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Exploring Copyright: History, Culture, Industry

International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC)

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join:

Contact FutureLearn for Support