The rich History of Copyright dates back, many would say, to the late 1660's to 1700's with the Statue of Anne. The historical background for copyright starts in 1476 with introduction into Great Britain of the printing press.
For those interested in American Copyright start with our forebears in Great Britain. One of the best sites is described below and can be found here:
"This is a digital archive of primary sources on copyright from the invention of the printing press (c. 1450) to the Berne Convention (1886) and beyond. The UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded the initial phase (completed in 2008) focusing on key materials from Renaissance Italy (Venice, Rome), France, the German speaking countries, Britain and the United States."
To get started, click here
You surely will wish to look over the 1710 Statue of Anne--considered to be the first governmental (versus private parties) regulation of copyright.