Sometimes a picture really is worth the thousand words that appear in the actual op-ed.
The irony of asserting that Shakespeare would have had any use for copyright is rich. The bard routinely stole other authors stories, characters, and conflicts, and remade them (remixed?) into the plays and language that we still read and perform today. And there is no evidence whatsoever that Shakespeare ever appealed to the copyright law of time (the so-call Royal Charter of 1557) to protect his own work. There is ample evidence that he took steps to keep his work from being stolen -- by making sure that no printer or scribe saw a full manuscript, and limiting actors to only the material they needed to properly learn and perform their parts. But copyright? No. I also suspect that were Shakespeare alive and working today, he would have been appalled by the
Sonny Bono Mickey Mouse copyright extension act.
He would likely have been a victim
of copyright; he was producing the Gray Albums of his time.
On the other hand, it sounds like he was trying to rely on trade secrecy as a protectionist tactic.
Wouldn't have worked, of course -- anyone in the audience taking detailed enough notes could have recreated a script and duplicated a play. The sixteenth-century analog hole.
He didn't just write plays, though, did he? He also involved himself in their performance, and as an expert. For that (knowing his own plays and the authorial intent behind them better than anybody else) he could command a price no matter how many copies of their scripts got loose. Furthermore, given their quality his services would have been in demand for authoring *new* scripts. That is, he could have hired his playwriting services out or even attempted a Renaissance version of a Kickstarter business model, say by asking fans to chip in to support the production of new material, which production could slow down or cease if the fans didn't provide.