The Eye of the Dead Man* (19th c. Photography, Copyright and the Law)
This whole article is really very good, and not least for its attempts to, as Thurston says, "help to establish standards in incorporating primary texts into critical essays, foster collaboration among scholars from different disciplines, and perhaps lead to the development of more ambitious legal-historical hypertexts."
Thurston describes the article as a consideration of "the legal reception of photography as a type of evidence in the appellate cases, legal treatises, and legal journals of the last half of the nineteenth century." I think it is also an excellent case study for a history of the reception of new technologies (which is an aspect of the PhD I'll be starting in October at The University of Chicago, with equal interests in the role of critics in the reception of new technologies, in technology+art, and in the operation and creation of publics).
Thank you Thomas Thurston for the incredibly well researched and fascinating and useful paper. And thank you Anne Galloway for the reference.
*in one of the cases that Thurston describes, a photograph is analogised to the eye of a dead man, because like the eye of a dead man [by which the lawyer means, a murdered man], a photograph permanently fixes the last thing it sees. By comparison—and this is the pointy end of the legal stick being brandished here—the eye of the live man registers only fleeting impressions, unfixed, impermanent, fallible and therefore far less useful (evidentiary) in a court of law than photographs...or the eyes of dead men. As Thurston carefully describes, photographs were not immediately and enthusiastically admitted into courts of law as evidence.