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ties, which left the punishment of piracy a matter of England damages at common law, requiring a separate action for each copy sold, usually against irresponsible people. Piracy again flourished. The right at common law seems, however, to have been unquestioned, and the Court of Common Pleas held that a plaintiff who had purchased from the executors of an author was owner of the property at common law. Owners of literary property petitioned Parliament, 1703 to 1709, for security and redress, declaring that the property of English authors had always been held as sacred among the traders, that conveyance gave just and legal title, that the property was the same with houses and other estates, and that existing "copies" had cost at least £50,000, and had been used in marriage settlements and were the subsistence of many widows and orphans. This led to the famous statute of Anne, introduced in 1709, and passed March, 1710,“for the encouragement of learning,” said to have been drawn in its original form by Swift, which remains the practical foundation of copyright in England and America to-day.




The statute THE statute of Anne, the foundation of the present of Anne as copyright system of England and America, which foundation

took effect April 10, 1710, gave the author of works then existing, or his assigns, the sole right of printing for twenty-one years from that date and no longer; of works not then printed, for fourteen years and no longer, except in case he were alive at the expiration of that term, when he could have the privilege prolonged for another fourteen years. Penalties were provided, which could not be exacted unless the books were registered with the Stationers' Company, and which must be sued for within three months after the offence. If too high prices were charged, the Queen's officers might order them lowered. A book could not be imported without written consent of the owner of the printing right. The number of deposit copies was increased to nine. The act was not to prejudice any previous rights of the

universities and others. Its relations This act did not touch the question of rights at com

mon law, and soon after its statutory term of proteclaw

tion on previously printed books expired, in 1731, lawsuits began. The first was that of Eyre v. Walker, in which Sir Joseph Jekyll granted, in 1735, an injunction as to “The whole duty of man," which had been first published in 1657, or seventy-eight years before. In this and several other cases the Court of Chancery issued injunctions on the theory that the legal right was unquestioned. But in 1769 the famous


to common

case of Millar v. Taylor, as to the copyright of Thom- The crucial son's “Seasons,” brought directly before the Court cases of King's Bench the question whether rights at common law still existed, aside from the statute and its period of protection. In this case Lord Mansfield and two other judges held that an author had, at common law, a perpetual copyright, independent of statute, one dissenting justice holding that there was no such property at common law. The copyright was sold by Millar's executors to Becket, who prosecuted Donaldson for piracy and obtained from Lord Chancellor Bathurst a perpetual injunction. In 1774, in the famous case of Donaldson v. Becket, this decision was appealed from, and the issue was carried to the highest tribunal, the House of Lords.

The House of Lords propounded five questions to The Judges' the judges. These, with the replies,' were as follows: opinions

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? Yes, 10 to i that he had the sole right, etc.,- and 8 to 3 that he might bring the action.

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? No, 7 to 4.

III. If such action would have lain at common law, is it taken away by the statute of 8th Anne? And is

· The votes on these decisions are given differently in the several copyright authorities. These figures are corrected from 4 Burrow's Reports, 2408, the leading English parliamentary reports, and are probably right.

an author, by the said statute, precluded from every remedy, except on the foundation of the said statute and on the terms and conditions prescribed thereby? Yes, 6 to 5.

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? Yes, 7 to 4.

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

Yes, 6 to 5. The Lords' These opinions, that there was perpetual copyright decision

at common law, which was not lost by publication, but that the statute of Anne took away that right and confined remedies to the statutory provisions, were directly contrary to the previous decrees of the courts, and on a motion seconded by the Lord Chancellor, the House of Lords, 22 to 11, reversed the decree in the case at issue. This construction by the Lords, in the case of Donaldson v. Becket, of the statute of Anne, has practically "laid down the law"

for England and America ever since. Protests Two protests against this action deserve note. The

first, that of the universities, was met by an act of 1775, which granted to the English and Scotch universities (to which Dublin was added in 1801), and to the colleges of Eton, Westminster and Winchester, perpetual copyright in works bequeathed to and printed by them. The other, that of the booksellers, presented to the Commons February 28, 1774, set forth that the petitioners had invested large sums in the belief of perpetuity of copyright, but a bill for

their relief was rejected. Supplemen- In 1801 an act was passed authorizing suits for tary legisla- damages (at common law, as well as penalties under tion

statute] during the period of protection of the statute,

the need for such a law having been shown in the case of Beckford v. Hood in 1798, wherein the court had to "stretch a point" to protect the plaintiff's rights in an anonymous book, which he had not entered in the Stationers' register.

Meantime, during the Georgian period, there had the been much incidental copyright legislation. The pro- Georgian vision in the statute of Anne for the limitation of

period prices was repealed by the act of 1739, which also continued the prohibition of the importation of foreign reprints, further continued in later acts or customs regulations from time to time, until these were disposed of by the statute law revision act of 1867. Copyright had been extended to engravings and prints by successive acts of 1734-5 (8 George II, c. 13), 1766-7 (7 George III, c. 38) and 1777 (17 George III, c. 57); to designs for linen and cotton printing by acts of 1787, 1789 and 1794; to sculpture by acts of 1798 and 1814 (54 George III, c. 56). A private copyright act of 1734 granted to Samuel Buckley, a citizen and stationer of London, sole liberty of printing an improved edition of the histories of Thuanus, and the engravings act of 1767 contained a similar special provision for the widow of Hogarth. In 1814 also, copyright in books was extended to twenty-eight years and the remainder of life, and the author was relieved from delivering the eleven library copies then required, except on demand. The university copyright act of 1775 (15 George III, c. 53), above mentioned, and the other acts given with specific citation above, still constitute, in certain unrepealed provisions, a part of the English law, although others of their provisions and other laws were repealed by later copyright acts or by the statute law revision act of 1861 or that of 1867.

In the reign of William IV the dramatic copyright act of 1833 (3 William IV, c. 15) became, and in part

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