Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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COPYRIGHT is the name of a certain species of incorporeal property. It is the exclusive right of receiving the profits from publishing and selling works of literature and art.


—Property is a right residing in the person, and there may be property in things which already exist, and also property in things which will only come into existence at a future period. The former is usually called corporeal property, and the latter incorporeal property.


—Thus there may be property, or the exclusive right, to use a manuscript, or a printed book, and there may also be the property, or exclusive right, to multiply and sell copies of the manuscript, or book, and appropriate the profits. This latter property is called copyright, and is manifestly a distinct property from the former.


—We have also shown that every future profit whatever has a present value, which may be bought and sold, like property in any material existing substance. This mass of property receives different names, according to the source of the profit, such as the good will of a business, the practice of a profession, the patent of an invention, the shares in a commercial company, the funds, and annuities of all sorts, credit, and copyright.


—Now, as economists are agreed that whatever is exchangeable is wealth, it follows that this enormous mass of property is wealth, nay, it is probable that nineteen-twentieths of existing wealth is in this form, and yet there is scarcely one word about it in any English work on political economy!


—The only English work on political economy that we are aware of at present, that even mentions copyright, is Dr. Whately's Lectures on Political Economy, p. 6, where he says, "In many cases where an exchange really takes place, the fact is liable (till the attention is called to it,) to be overlooked, in consequence of our not seeing any actual transfer from hand to hand of a material object. For instance, when the copyright of a book is sold to a bookseller, the article transferred is not the mere paper covered with writing, but the exclusive privilege of printing and publishing. It is plain, however, on a moment's thought, that the transaction is as real an exchange as that which takes place between the bookseller and his customers who buy copies of the work."


—It is quite clear that copyright is a species of fixed capital. When a publisher buys the copyright of a popular work, it is manifest that is part of his capital. When an author produces a work for which there is a popular demand, and whose copyright is therefore valuable property, he is unquestionably producing wealth.


—The introduction of this species of property into political economy which can by no possibility be excluded from it, shows the inconsistency of the fundamental conceptions of many writers. Thus Mr. Mill, who says that everything forms a part of wealth which has a power of purchasing, and therefore admits, by implication, that a copyright is wealth, speaks of the production of wealth as the extraction of the instruments of human subsistence and enjoyment from the materials of the globe, thereby very nearly agreeing with Adam Smith's notion of wealth, as the produce of land and labor. But how is a copyright extracted from the materials of the globe? How is it the produce of land and labor?


—It also shows that some theorems which he lays down as fundamental, are not so. Thus he says that all capital is the result of saving. But how is a copyright the result of saving? He also states as another fundamental theorem, that although saved, and the result of saving, all capital is nevertheless consumed. But how is a copyright consumed? He says that "capital is kept in existence from age to age, not by preservation, but by perpetual reproduction; every part of it is used and destroyed, generally very soon after it is produced, but those who consume it are employed meanwhile in producing more." (Vol. i., p. 92.) But how is copyright kept in existence by perpetual reproduction? How does the owner of a valuable copyright consume it, and how is hé employed in producing more? These are examples of hasty generalization from too small an induction of facts.


—Copyright, we thus see, is a species of valuable property, produced entirely by the demand of the public for works of literature and art. It is thus purely the creation of diffused civilization and education, and could not have any existence, except from the educated taste of the public, and unless there were the means of gratifying it at a moderate expense.


—It has been discussed whether there was any copyright among the ancients. Mr. M'Culloch, quoting some well-known passages, thinks there was. But we think the passages he alleges do not bear out any such doctrine. Thus he quotes from the prologue to the "Eunuchus" of Terence, who, we are told by Suetonius, received 8,000 sesterces, or £64 12s., for writing the play to be acted at the Megalensian games. This was the largest sum paid to any poet for such a work. This, however, proves nothing as to copyright. It was a mere payment for writing a play for a particular occasion. Juvenal also speaks of selling a play to an actor (vii., 87). But this is manifestly merely payment for writing a play to be acted, as was usual. This did not refer to copyright, for the very purpose of the satire is to lament the utter decay of all taste for literature among the Romans. Horace (Ep. i., 20, 2; Art. Poet, 345) speaks of the Sosii, who were his publishers, and Martial (i., 67; iv., 72; xiii., 3; xiv., 194) speaks of Tryphon, who had his works on sale. These cases point to copyright much more than the others. But yet they are by no means conclusive. They by no means imply that the author received payment for the exclusive right to sell his works. We may well understand that there might be a certain comity of trade that one publisher should not sell another's works; but that does not prove the legal right to prevent him doing so. The real question is, Could an author, or publisher, bring an action to prevent another from copying and selling his works? Now, if such a property had existed, it would certainly have been mentioned in the Pandects. But there is no mention in them of any such property. There is no name in Roman law for copyright. There is no case in Roman law of any action having been brought to punish the invasion of such property. Therefore we think the only conclusion is that it did not exist.


—It is stated by bishop Fell, that before the invention of printing, the university of Oxford claimed to have the exclusive right of transcribing and multiplying books by means of writing. This, however, by no means implies copyright, because it does not imply that the works so copied were the property of the university, but only that they had the monopoly of writing them out.


—Soon after the invention of printing, a printer, called the king's printer, was appointed to print papers of state, proclamations, etc. The earliest notice we have of such an appointment is in 1504, when William Faques styles himself "Regius Impressor," in a proclamation against clipped money. Richard Pynson succeeded Faques in this office, and in 1518 we have the earliest instance in England of copyright. A speech printed by him has the following colophon: "Impressa Londini anno verbi incarnati M.D.XVIII. idibus Novembris, per Richardum Pynson, regium impressorem, cum privilegio à rege indulto ne quis hanc orationem intra biennium in regno Angliæ imprimat, aut alibi impressam et importatam in eodem regno Angliæ vendat."


—During the reign of Henry VIII. these privileges were frequently granted to printers, usually for seven years. Piracy was not long in showing itself. In 1523 Wynken de Worde printed a treatise on grammar by Robert Witinton. The author, in a new edition in 1533, complains that the work had been pirated by Peter Trevers. To prevent this being done to the second edition, he procured the king's privilege for it.


—These cases seem to negative the idea that there was then believed to be any such thing as copyright at common law.


—All these privileges had been granted to printers, who may probably be supposed to have paid the authors something for their work. In 1530 we have the first instance of copyright granted to an author. John Palsgrave had published a French grammar at his own expense, and in consideration of this he received a privilege for seven years.


—In 1556 the subject of copyright was put on a new footing. Complaints were made that many false, seditious and heretical books, ballads and rhymes were published. To bring printers more under control, they were incorporated by the name of the "Stationers' Company." They were allowed to make by-laws, and no one but a member of their body was allowed to practice the business of printing in England. In 1558 they received a second charter, and a by law was made that every one who printed a work should enter it in their register, and pay a fee; and every one who omitted to do this, or printed a book belonging to another member, was fined. In this year entries of copies for particular persons begin, and in 1559 there are persons fined for printing other men's copies. In 1573 there are entries of the sales of copy and their price.


—Privileges for printing particular works were the legitimate protection of the labor and expense of publication. But with the general spirit of monopoly which prevailed to such a pernicious extent, patents for the exclusive right to publish all works on particular subjects were granted to various persons. Thus one had the monopoly of printing all books on common law; another all catechisms and spelling books; another all music books; another all almanacs, etc. The printers were so injuriously affected by these monopolies, that they petitioned the queen against them. But meeting with no redress, they disputed the queen's right to grant these patents, and printed works in defiance of them, and the rules of their own company. Complaints were made to the privy council of these irregularities, but they were too much occupied with foreign and domestic troubles to take any effectual steps to remedy them.


—The queen had, in 1559, issued a proclamation, strictly forbidding any one to publish anything without a license. In 1566, this proclamation being little regarded, the star chamber issued a decree enforcing it, under the penalties of seizure of all books so printed, disability from exercising the trade of printing, and three months' imprisonment. The printers were ordered to give bonds to observe the decree. But they continued to disregard all decrees and penalties, and in 1586 another decree was issued, to restrict the number of printers, and to confine the trade to London, except one press at Oxford, and another at Cambridge. All printers were forbidden to print books contrary to the by-laws of the company.


—A proclamation of Sept. 25, 1623, forbade any one to import from abroad any works which were copyright. Another proclamation to a similar effect was published in 1637.


—In 1640 the star chamber was abolished. All regulations of the press by proclamation, decrees of the star chamber, and the powers of the stationers' company, were declared illegal and void. But the abuses of unlicensed printing were so great that, in 1643, it was ordered that all books should be entered in the register of the stationers' company, according to ancient custom. Copyright was thus restored as it stood before. In 1644 Milton published his famous Areopagitica, against the licensing act, but he particularly excepts that part relating to "the just retaining of each man his several copy, which God forbid should be gainsaid." In 1649 an act of parliament ordained that any one printing, or reprinting, or stitching, or binding, any books entered in the register of the stationers' company, without the consent of the owner, should forfeit all such books, and be fined 6s. 8d. for each. No presses were allowed, except in London, the universities, York, and Finsbury.


—The statute 1662, cap. 33, re-enacted these provisions, and ordered that a copy of every work printed should be deposited in the king's library, and each of the universities. This act, after several renewals, expired in 1679, and with it expired all legislative penalties for pirating copyright. Accordingly, piracy very soon began to be common, and in 1681 the stationers' company passed a by-law to fine every one so offending in the sum of 12d. for every copy so printed, or imported. In 1684 Charles II. granted a new charter to the stationers' company, in which it was stated, "That divers brethren and members of the company have great part of their estates in books and copies, and that for upward of a century before, they had a public register kept in their common hall, for the entry and description of books and copies." It then said "We, willing and desiring to confirm and establish every member in their just rights and properties, do well approve of the aforesaid register," and "that every member of the company who should be the proprietor of any book, should have and enjoy the sale, right, power and privilege and authority of printing such book and copy, as in that case has been usual heretofore." The act of 1662 was revived by the 1 Jac. II., c. 7, for the term of seven years, and renewed till the end of the session of parliament next after Feb. 13, 1692. The booksellers petitioned against it, and 11 peers entered a protest against it, as subjecting all learning and true information to the arbitrary will and pleasure of a mercenary and perhaps ignorant licenser, and destroying the property of authors in their copies.


—It appears that at this time the stationers' company had been guilty of many malpractices. They sometimes extorted large sums for entering works; sometimes they refused, or neglected, to do so at all. Sometimes they made false entries, or fraudulent erasures, or cut out the leaves in which entries were made, to the confusion of all literary property, which was supposed to rest on the entry in the register.


—Attempts were made to renew the licensing act, but the commons resisted, and it finally expired on April 25, 1694. The circumstances which brought about the final emancipation of the English press are fully stated by Macaulay.


—The opposition of the commons was to the arbitrary power of the licenser. They clearly thought that the property in copyright was inherent in the author and his assigns, and well secured by the charters and laws of the stationers' company. But unfortunately, in abolishing the licensing act, they had swept away all statutory penalties for pirating copyright; and persons whose rights were invaded had no other remedy but for damages at common law. Several cases had been before the courts relating to copyright, but these all referred to disputed property, none ever questioned the right. In the case of Roper vs. Streater (Skinner, 234), the court of common pleas held that the plaintiff having purchased it from the executors of the author was owner of the copy at common law.


—The removal of the statutory penalties for piracy opened the door to the same practices as had been committed before, and in 1694 the stationers' company renewed their by-law of 1681, but with little effect. The recovery of damages at law was so hazardous and uncertain, as most of the pirates were men who had no property sufficient to pay damages, and as it required a separate action for each copy proved to be sold, that it was in practice illusory. In 1703, 1706, and 1709, the owners of copies petitioned parliament for redress, and security to their properties. They had been so long secured by penalties that it had not occurred to them to proceed by a bill in equity, which had never hitherto been attempted or thought of, except upon letters patent adjudged to be legal.


—The petitioners declared that the property of English authors had always been owned as sacred among the traders, and generally forborne hitherto to be invaded. That when the author had conveyed over his copy to any one of them, they had a just and legal property thereunto. That they had given sums of money for copies, and had settled these copies on their wives at marriage, or on their children at their deaths. That many widows and orphans had none other subsistence. That their existing copies had cost them at least £50,000. That this property was the same with houses and other estates. In consequence of these petitions, an act was passed in March, 1710, for the encouragement of learning, by vesting the copies of printed books in the authors, or purchasers of such copies, during the times therein mentioned. It gave authors of the works then existing, and their assigns, the sole right of printing the same for 21 years, from April 10, 1710, and no longer. Authors of works not printed, and their assigns, had the sole right of doing so for 14 years, and no longer. The penalties in the act were not to be exacted from any one unless the book should be entered in the usual way in the register of the stationers' company. If too high prices were put upon books, certain great officers of state might order them to be lowered. The number of copies to public libraries was increased to nine. The libraries of the four universities of Scotland, Zion college, London, and the advocates' library in Edinburgh, were added to those entitled by the statute of Charles II. If the authors were alive at the end of the first 14 years, they received a prolongation of their privilege for another 14 years. All penalties under the act were to be sued for within three months after the offense was committed. Nothing in the act was to prejudice or confirm any right that the universities, or any person or persons, had, or claimed to have, in the printing, or reprinting any book, or copy, already printed, or hereafter to be printed.


—We thus see that, with that tender regard for the interests of the robe, which parliament displays, they carefully avoided pronouncing any decision at all with regard to the right of copy at common law, but took care to leave the door open for a plentiful crop of litigation.


—It is quite impossible to read this act without seeing that it distinctly recognizes copyright as existing already, and independently of the act. All they did was to enact certain statutory penalties for its infringement. But that, by a well-known rule of law, in no way affected proceedings at common law. We have seen that the courts of law never raised the slightest doubt as to the existence of copyright at common law. We shall now see how the court of chancery regarded it. As the act gave 21 years for old copies from April 10, 1710, no question on copyright at common law could arise before 1731. In 1735 Sir Joseph Jekyll granted an injunction in the case of Eyre vs. Walker, to restrain the defendant from printing the "Whole Duty of Man," the first assignment of which had been made in December, 1657, being 78 years before.


—In the same year, lord Talbot, in the case of Matte vs. Falkner, granted an injunction restraining the defendant from printing "Nelson's Festivals and Fasts," printed in 1703, during the life of the author, who died in 1714.


—In 1739 lord Hardwicke, in the case of Tonson and Another vs. Walker, otherwise Stanton, granted an injunction restraining the defendant from printing "Milton's Paradise Lost," the copyright of which was assigned in 1667, or 72 years before. In 1752 lord Hardwicke, in the case of Tonson vs. Walker and Merchant, granted an injunction, restraining the defendants from printing "Milton's Paradise, or Life, or Notes."


—All this time there had never been any solemn decision by the king's bench as to the existence of copyright at common law, or as to how it was affected by the statute of Anne. But the court of chancery never granted an injunction unless the legal right was clear and undisputed. If there had been any doubt about it, they would have sent it to be argued in a court of common law.


—At last the question was brought before the king's bench, in the case of Tonson vs. Collins, but after it had gone into the exchequer chamber, and the leaning of the court was clearly in favor of the plaintiff, it was discovered that it was in fact a collusive action, got up merely to obtain the judgment of the court, and they thereupon refused to proceed with it. While this action was pending, applications to the court of chancery for an injunction were refused, until the result of the common law action was decided. Lord Mansfield said that he looked upon these injunctions as equal to any final decree, because they were never granted unless the legal property of the plaintiff was made out.


—At length, in 1769, the question was solemnly argued before the king's bench in the famous case of Millar vs. Taylor. Millar had purchased from Thomson the copyright in the "Seasons," which were published in 1728, and therefore, if the right existed only by statute, it expired in 1756. Taylor published an edition in 1763, and Millar brought an action for damages against him in 1769. It, of course, can not be expected that we should give an outline of the arguments in this celebrated case. It is sufficient to say that three of the judges, lord Mansfield, and JJ. Aston and Willes, held that every author had, by common law, a perpetual copyright in his own works, quite independent of the statute. Yates, J, held that there was no such property at common law. The plaintiff, therefore, got the judgment, and in Trinity Term, 1770, the lords commissioners granted an injunction.


—In 1774, however, the question was again raised. In the case of Beckett vs. Donaldson, the plaintiff had obtained an injunction founded on the decision in the case of Millar vs. Taylor. The case was immediately carried by appeal to the house of lords, when the house proposed the following questions to the judges: I. Whether at common law an author of any book, or literary composition, had the sole right of first printing and publishing the same for sale, and might bring an action against any person who printed, published and sold the same without his consent?


—Upon this question, JJ. Nares, Ashurst, Blackstone, Willes, Aston, Perrot and Adams, Smythe, C. B., and De Grey, C. J., of the common pleas, held the affirmative; Eyre, B., held the negative.


—II. If the author had such right originally, did the law take it away upon his printing and publishing such book or literary composition? And might any person afterward reprint and sell for his own benefit such book or literary composition against the will of the author?


—Upon this question judges Nares, Ashurst, Blackstone, Willes and Aston, and Smythe, C. B., held the affirmative: Eyre, Perrot, Adams and De Grey, C. J., held the negative.


—III. If such action would have held at common law, is it taken away by the statute 8 Anne, c. 19? And is an author by the said statute precluded from every remedy, except on the foundation of the said statute, and the terms and conditions prescribed thereby?


—Upon this question judges Eyre, Nares, Perrot, Gould and Adams, and De Grey, C. J., held the affirmative. Judges Ashurst, Blackstone, Willes, Aston, and Smythe, C. B., held the negative.


—IV. Whether the author of any literary composition, and his assigns, had the sole right of printing and publishing the same in perpetuity by the common law?


—Upon this question judges Nares, Ashurst, Blackstone, Willes, Aston and Gould, and Smythe, C. B., held the affirmative. Judges Eyre, Perrot, Adams, and De Grey, C. J., held the negative.


—V. Whether this right is any way impeached, restrained, or taken away by the statute of 8 Anne?


—Judges Eyre, Nares, Perrot, Gould and Adams, and De Grey, C. J., held the affirmative. Judges Ashurst, Blackstone, Willes and Aston, and Smythe, C. B., held the negative.


—Upon these answers, the decree of the court of chancery was reversed, on the motion of lord Camden, seconded by the lord chancellor, by a majority of 22 to 11.


—By this majority of a single judge this momentous question was decided. It will be observed that it was brought about by two judges, Nares and Gould, who voted that an author had perpetual copyright by common law, leaving their side, and voting that this perpetual right was taken away by the statute.


—Such an opinion seems to as to be incomprehensible. Modern opinion has confirmed the judgment of the minority, that there is no such thing as copyright at common law. But how judges, who held that copyright did exist at common law, could hold that it was taken away by the statute of Anne, seems past understanding, for there is a clause expressly enacting that the statute should in no way whatever affect preexisting rights.


—Right or wrong, however, this judgment declared that the practice of two centuries, and the deliberate opinion of all the courts of law and equity during that period, were erroneous, and henceforward copyright had nothing but statute law to support it.


—Authors, publishers, and the universities were taken by surprise at this unexpected decision of the house of lords, destroying what they imagined was their inviolable property. The universities immediately took the field, and in 1775 an act was passed (15 Geo. III., c. 53), which granted to both the universities in England, and to each of the colleges therein, to the colleges of Eton, Westminster, and Winchester, and to the four universities of Scotland, perpetual copyright in all works that should be bequeathed to them, so long as they should print them at their own presses, and not assign them over to any one else. They, nevertheless might sell them to any one they pleased, in the same manner as any individual author.


—And here we may observe that a very curious question might arise. It is a plain maxim of law that a man can not grant, or assign to another, a greater estate, or interest, than he possesses himself. But here is a manifest exception to this rule. An author has only a very limited interest in his own works, according to the present law, only 42 years, or his own lifetime, whichever is the longest. Hence he can only assign over that interest to any private person. But if he assign this copyright to any university or college named in the act, it becomes an estate in perpetuity. Therefore, he has clearly assigned a greater estate than he himself possesses. Again, this question might arise. Suppose an author assigns over his copyright as above, which immediately becomes perpetual by force of law, and suppose the college, or university, sell this copyright, which has now become perpetual, to an individual. Is the copyright perpetual, or limited?


—The booksellers also petitioned the house of commons on Feb. 28, 1774, stating that in the full belief of the perpetuity of copyrights, they had invested large sums in their purchase, and that the support of many families depended on the same, and prayed for such relief as the house might deem proper. A bill was brought in for this purpose, but rejected. In 1798 a new point was raised in the case of Beckford vs. Hood. The plaintiff had published a work anonymously, and sued for damages for the piracy of it. The defendant contended that no action lay for damages since the statute of Anne, which gave penalties, and that the author had lost his right by publishing his work anonymously, and not entering it on the stationers' register, as prescribed by the act. The court, however, by one of those skillful examples of hair-splitting, where plain sense is against them, gave judgment for the plaintiff. The judgment, however, was so manifestly weak, that an act was brought in to bolster it up (41 Geo. III., c. 107), and authors and their assigns were allowed to bring actions on the case for damages for pirating their works during the currency of the privilege granted by the statute of Anne. Trinity college and the king's inn, Dublin, were also added to the list of those places which were entitled to pillage authors of their works. Trinity college also received the right of holding copyrights in perpetuity, like the English and Scotch universities and colleges.


—By an act passed in 1814 (54 Geo. III., c. 156) the copies of printed books were required only to be delivered on demand, within 12 months of their publication. The author's copyright was extended to 28 years certain, and for the remainder of his life, if he survived that period. The grievance of every author being mulcted in 11 copies of his work, was complained of in parliament several times, but nothing was done till 1836, when Mr Buckingham brought in a bill which was passed, which enacted that the rights of Zion college, the four universities of Scotland, and the king's inn, Dublin, should cease, upon receiving compensation, which was to be expended in the purchase of works. By this act the number of presented copies was reduced to five.


—At last Serjeant (afterward Mr. Justice) Talfourd appropriately took up the subject of copyright, and brought the subject before the house of commons. The discussion extended through several sessions, and his bill having been considerably modified, was passed in 1842, as the 5th and 6th Vic., c. 45. This act repealed the 8 Anne, c. 19; the 41 Geo. III., c. 107; the 51 Geo. III., c. 156; and is now the one which regulates the subject of literary copyright. By this act, the word "book," is to mean every volume, or part thereof, pamphlet, sheet of letterpress, or music, map, chart, or plan separately published. The copyright in every such book published, in the lifetime of the author, is to last for his lifetime and seven years after; but if such term elapse before the end of 42 years from the publication of the work, then the copyright shall exist for 42 years. If the book is published after the author's death, the copyright is to last for 42 years, and shall belong to the owner of the author's manuscript from which it is first published. If the proprietor of such copyright refuse to publish it, the judicial committee of the privy council may authorize it. One copy of every such book to be delivered at the British Museum. The libraries at Oxford, Cambridge, the Advocates' at Edinburgh, and Trinity college, Dublin, may have one copy on demand. Articles in encyclopædias, magazines, and reviews, and periodicals, are subject to the same copyright as books, except that the copyright of articles in reviews, magazines, and periodicals, reverts to the author after 28 years, for the remainder of the term. Subsequent provisions were made for preventing the importation into British possessions of the works of British authors, in which copyright still subsists.


—The next subjects which received copyright from law, were prints and engravings. The acts relating to this, are the 8 Geo. II., c. 13; the 7 Geo. III., c. 38; the 17 Geo. III., c. 57; and the 15 and 16 Vic., c. 12. By these acts, the copyright in prints, engravings, lithographs, and all such works of art, is given for 28 years from the day of publication.


—By the 27 Geo. III., c. 38, copyright was given in the designing and printing of manufactures; this act was modified and extended by subsequent nets. The present acts on the subject are the 5 and 6 Vic., c. 100; the 6 and 7 Vic., c. 65; the 13 and 14 Vic., c. 104; and the 20 and 22 Vic., c. 70. By these acts, designs in manufactures are divided into various classes, and various terms are allowed for the copyright of designs in each. For designs for ornamenting articles in metal; wood; glass; earthenware, and other solid substances; paper hangings; carpets, including floor and oil-cloths; shawls, unprinted; linen fabrics with pattern, printed; woven damasks; the term is three years. For shawls, printed; yarn, thread, or warp; nine months. For woven fabrics, unprinted; lace, and all other articles, twelve months. For the shape or configuration of articles of utility, three years.


—By the 38 Geo. III., c. 71; and 54 Geo. III., c. 56, copyright was granted for sculptures, models, and casts, for 14 years from the time of first publication; and to the author, if living at the end of that term, 14 years more.


—By the 3 and 4 Wm. IV., c. 15, the term of copyright granted to authors by the 54 Geo. III., c. 156, was extended to the author of dramatic compositions of all sorts; publication in this instance being interpreted as representing at a place of dramatic entertainment; and a similar extension was granted by the 5 and 6 Vic., c. 45, and its provisions extended to musical compositions.


—By the 5 and 6 Wm. IV., c. 65, the author of any lectures, or the person to whom he might assign the copyright in them, was to have the sole right of publishing them. No newspaper editor is to publish them without leave. And no person who is allowed to attend them is to have the right to publish them. If, however, they are published, the copyright lasts for 28 years. To secure this copyright, however, no ice must be given to two justices of the peace within five miles of the place where they are to be delivered, two days beforehand. And it does not extend to lectures delivered in unlicensed places, or in public schools and colleges.


—International copyright was first granted by the 1 and 2 Vic., c. 59; but this act was repealed by the 7 and 8 Vic., c. 12, further amended by the 15 Vic., c. 12. By the first of these acts the queen, in council, was permitted to grant to the authors of original foreign works, such term of copyright in the British dominions as she pleased, not exceeding the term allowed for similar works in this country. By the latter act the queen, in council, may grant a copyright of five years for an authorized translation of foreign works; and also may prohibit, for a similar period, the representation of an unauthorized translation of a foreign dramatic piece.


—Such is the history and present state of the laws regarding copyright in England.


—We may mention that the copyright in private letters remains in the writer after transmission; and the receiver of them, and his representatives, have no right to publish them without the consent of the writer or his representatives.


—Copyright in France, as is stated in the Dictionnaire de l' Economie Politique, was conferred by the grant of the sovereign, as in England, and sometimes for a limited period. The ancient law was contained in the Ordonnance de Moulins of 1566, a declaration of Charles IX. in 1571, and the letters patent of Henry III. Usually no limit was fixed to the duration of copyright, but when a perpetual copyright was granted, it was always under the condition that it should not be parted with to booksellers. If so, it ceased with the author's life. Several edicts in 1618, 1665, 1682, 1686, and 1723, enacted corporal and pecuniary punishments against pirates.


—The revolution of 1789 changed this. Copyright was granted as a right to every one, but its duration was limited. According to existing laws, the copyright is vested in an author and his wife during their respective lives, and to their children for 20 years afterward. If they have none, their heirs have it for 10 years. In dramatic pieces, the widow has the same as the children, 20 years.


—According to the same authority, the copyrights in different countries are as follows. Before the union of Holland and Belgium, copyright was perpetual in Holland. In 1817 the French law was adopted in the united country, and is now continued in each separately.


—In the Zollverein the Prussian law has been adopted, which gives copyright to the author during his life, and to his heirs for 30 years after.


—This law was adopted in Austria in 1846.


—In Russia it belongs to the author for life, and to his heirs for 25 years. But if they have published a new edition within five years of the expiry of this term, it is prolonged for 10 years.


—In Sardinia it lasted only for 15 years. In 1846 a convention was agreed to with France, by which the benefits of French law were extended to the subjects of both nations. We believe that a new convention has been recently concluded between these two countries regarding literary property.


—In Portugal, the law is the same as that of Germany.


—In Spain, according to the present law, authors have the copyright for their lives, and their heirs for 50 years after.


—Prussia was the first country which set the example of granting international copyright. In 1837 a law was passed that every country might secure copyright for its authors in Prussia upon granting reciprocity. This was followed by England in 1838. In consequence of these, several international treaties of copyright have been negotiated. France, however, has set the example, under the Emperor Napoleon III., by a law of March 28, 1852, of forbidding the piracy of books and works of art published abroad, without requiring reciprocity. It is said, too, that steps were then about to be taken to make copyright perpetual.


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