Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



Legal internalism refers to the internal point of view that professional participants in a legal practice develop toward it. It represents a behavioral phenomenon wherein such participants treat the domain of law (or a subset of it) as normative, epistemologically self-contained, and logically coherent on its own terms regardless of whether the law actually embodies those characteristics. Thus understood, legal internalism remains an important characteristic of all modern legal systems. In this Review, we examine three recent interdisciplinary histories of copyright law to showcase the working of legal internalism. We argue that while their interdisciplinary emphasis adds to the conversation about copyright, it also overlooks the centrality of legal internalism in the evolution of copyright, a domain that has always been understood as a creation of the law. The Review unpacks the core tenets of legal internalism, examines how it operates as an important variable of legal change, contrasts it with the idea of legal consciousness, and shows how legal internalism directs and regulates the entry of nonlegal considerations into different areas of law.


Comparative and Foreign Law | Intellectual Property Law | International Law | Law | Law and Society | Legal History


Authors and Apparatus: A Media History of Copyright by Monika Dommann, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2019, pp. 282, $41.95.

Who Owns the News? A History of Copyright by Will Slauter, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2019, pp. 268, $30.00.

Pirates and Publishers: A Social History of Copyright in Modern China by Fei-Hsien Wang, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2019, pp. 368, $39.95.