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Commentary on:
Statute of Anne (1710)

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Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900)
www.copyrighthistory.org
Identifier: uk_1710

 

Commentary on the Statute of Anne 1710
Ronan Deazley

School of Law, University of Birmingham, UK

 

Please cite as:
Deazley, R. (2008) ‘Commentary on the Statute of Anne 1710', in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org

 

1. Full title

2. Abstract

3. The Statute of Anne in Parliament

4. The Statute of Anne and the Stamp Acts

5. Reconsidering the Statute of Anne

6. The Devil in the Detail

7. References

 

1. Full title
An Act 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 (the Statute of Anne) 1710, 8 Anne, c.19

 

2. Abstract
Legislation conferring exclusive rights upon the author of books not yet printed or published for a period of 14 years and for a further 14 years if the author was still alive at the end of the first period. The legislation also provided the same rights for the authors or owners of books already in print for a single 21 year term.

 

The commentary describes the background to the Act detailing the manner in which the legislation was amended as it passed through parliament, and highlights particular flaws in the drafting. The commentary argues that, although the Act sought to both secure the interests of the Stationers while at the same time regulating the general operation of the book trade, the primary concern of the legislature lay in the encouragement and advancement of learning.

 

3. The Statute of Anne in Parliament
On 12 December 1709, a consortium of influential stationers submitted a petition to the House of Commons complaining that "divers Persons have of late invaded the Properties of others, by reprinting several Books, without the Consent, and to the great Injury, of the Proprietors, even to their utter Ruin, and the Discouragement of all Writers in any useful Part of Learning".[1] Leave was given to bring in a Bill "for securing to [the petitioners] the Property in Books" and, on 11 January 1710, it was presented before the House for its first reading.[2] As it passed through both the Commons and the Lords the Bill was to undergo some considerable transformation; however, in its earliest incarnation it contained only six clauses. It prohibited the printing, reprinting or importing of any book which "any author shall hereafter compose or write" (or which any bookseller or printer purchased or acquired from the same) subject to financial penalties,[3] required that all such works be registered with the Company of Stationers prior to publication,[4] and required that three copies of every book be deposited for the King's Library, as well as those at Oxford and Cambridge.[5] Each of these provisions had a precedent in the Licensing Act 1662. In addition, the Bill introduced a system for controlling the cost of books published at "too high or unreasonable" a price,[6] provided that the defendant in any action taken under the proposed legislation could plead the "General Issue",[7] and proposed to allow anyone to freely import and sell "any of the Classicks [or] any other Book or Books printed Originally beyond the Seas".[8]

 

A number of these provisions were amended, in relatively minor ways, as the Bill travelled through the Commons: the registration requirement was altered to include an obligation upon the Stationers' Company clerk to issue a certificate verifying registration as and when required; deposit copies were also to be provided for the benefit of Sion College and the Faculty of Advocates in Edinburgh;[9] the free importation clause was modified to incorporate not "Classicks" but rather "any Books in Greek, Latin or any other foreign Language printed beyond the Seas".[10] In addition to these changes, further provisions were introduced. The operation of the legislation was extended to allow the recovery of penalties before the Court of Session in Scotland,[11] and any actions taken had to be commenced within three months from the commission of the offence "or else the same shall be void and of none effect".[12] In addition, as had been the case in the Licensing Act, the universities and those holding printing patents had their privileges confirmed, although there was now more than a touch of ambiguity about the phrasing of this saving clause.[13]

 

Of more obvious consequence were the revisions to the Bill's preamble and first section. The whole emphasis of the Bill as initially drafted lay behind the presumption that the "Copy of a Book" was a clearly recognisable form of property, equal in stature as with any other chattel or estate. However, what began as a Bill "for Securing the Property of Copies in Books" became an Act "for the Encouragement of Learning, by Vesting the Copies of printed Books in the Authors or Purchasers of such Copies".[14] The preamble to the Bill had begun with a statement about the "[l]iberty frequently taken of late" in printing, without consent, the work of an author:

"[I]n whom the undoubted Property of such Books and Writings, as the Product of their Learning and Labour, remains; or of such Persons, to whom such Authors, for good Considerations, have lawfully Transferred their Right and Title therein, is not only a great Discouragement to Learning in general, which in all Civilised Nations ought to receive the greatest Countenance and Encouragement, but is also a Notorious Invasion of the Property of the Rightful Proprietors of such Books and Writings ... For preventing therefore such Unjust and Pernicious Practices for the future, ... and for the Preservation of the Property of the Rightful Owner thereof..."

The property in books and writings was apparently incontestable. Moreover, the original Bill had in no way sought to limit the term of protection of such property. However, this assertion of the "undoubted property" of authors in their works was subsequently abandoned. As with the Act's title, the preamble was reduced in length and altered in significance, now confining itself to the prevention of unauthorised printing and the "Encouragement of learned Men to compose and write useful Books". In exchange for the continued production of "useful Books", what was being offered was the "sole right and liberty of printing" such works, that is, a reproduction right. In addition, the notion of any rights existing in perpetuity, guaranteed under the Licensing Act, and implicit in the original draft of the Bill, was jettisoned. Instead, the Commons chose to limit the lifetime of this printing right for "the Term of One and Twenty Years" for books already in print "and no longer" [in print]. For books that had been written but were not yet "printed and published", as well as books that had yet to be composed, the term was for "... Fourteen Years, to commence from the day of first publishing the same, and no longer".[15]

 

Also significant, and likewise anathema to the booksellers, was the fact that, for the first time since the incorporation of the Stationers' Company in 1557, not just the members of the company, but also any author, and indeed anyone else who was suitably inclined, was free to own and deal in the copies of books. The preamble referred generically to the "Author or Proprietors" of books, while the first section made it clear that the author, the bookseller, the printer, or any "other person or persons" who had "purchased or acquired the copy or copies of any book or books" would be entitled to receive the time-limited protections of the statute. Moreover, the Commons were sufficiently astute to introduce an alternative to registration should the Stationer's Company try to retain a position of dominance within the trade by simply refusing to register people's works in the company register book.[16] The last section of the Act, supplied this time by the House of Lords, was equally in keeping with these provisions in that it functioned to displace and unsettle existing structures and relationships within the book trade. Section 11 provided that, following the expiration of the fourteen year protection for books yet to be published, "the sole Right of printing or disposing of Copies shall return to the Authors thereof, if they are then living, for another Term of Fourteen years". On the Lords' use of this bifurcated term, Rose comments: "Most likely [they] felt fourteen years was too short, and yet they were reluctant in the light of the Jacobean Statute of Monopolies provision against any monopoly terms longer than fourteen years, simply to declare a longer term".[17]

 

While Rose makes a convincing case for the fact that the Commons had taken its cue from the Statute of Monopolies 1624 in settling upon the fourteen and twenty-one year terms,[18] it is clear that these were not necessarily inevitable choices. Both drafts of the Printing Bill in 1695 had left the matter undetermined,[19] a pamphleteer from this time had suggested ten years as a possible term of protection for new works,[20] and John Locke (1632-1704) had proffered a period of either fifty or seventy years.[21] To suggest that the Lords settled upon their final construction only because they felt constrained by the earlier statute is perhaps to miss the real motivation behind their amendment. Had they simply chosen to introduce a longer term, this would, in practice, have meant control of the work remaining with the owner of the book, who would more than likely be a bookseller. Rather, the use of the divided term, albeit reminiscent of the earlier statute, was designed to ensure that the control of the work would in fact return to the author if still alive. Given that this was the only section within the final Act to make reference solely to the author, it seems likely that the Lords fully intended to benefit the author and only the author. In any event, on 5 April 1710, the world's first copyright statute was passed.

 

4. The Statute of Anne and the Stamp Acts
Before moving to consider how others have read and understood the Act, there is an important historical footnote to briefly consider in the guise of the Stamp Act 1711, which set out a number of taxes relevant to the book trade.[22] Paper, books, prints and maps imported from abroad were to be charged at £30 for every 100 pounds imported,[23] and paper manufactured within Great Britain was to be taxed at variable rates depending on its quality and size.[24] This legislation operated to complement the Statute of Anne in two respects. In relation to the duty payable on paper, it provided a general claw-back clause, "for the Encouragement of Learning", in setting out that:

"[S]o much Money as shall from Time to Time be paid for the Duties granted by this Act, for any Quantities of Paper, which ... shall be used in the printing any Books in the Latin, Greek, Oriental or Northern Languages, within the two Universities of Oxford and Cambridge ... shall and may be drawn back and repaid..." [25]

Second, it also raised a duty "for and upon all Books and Papers commonly called Pamphlets, and for and upon all Newspapers or Papers containing publick News, Intelligence or Occurances", and continued that:

"[I]f any such Pamphlet containing more than One Sheet of Paper [shall during the next 32 years] be printed or published, and the Duty hereby charged thereon shall not be duly paid ... then the Author, Printer and Publisher of, and all other Persons concerned in or about the Printing or Publishing of such Pamphlet, shall lose all Property therein, and in every copy thereof, although the Title thereto were registered in the Book of Stationers in London, according to the late Act of Parliament in that Behalf, so as any Person (notwithstanding the said Act) may freely print and publish the same ... without being liable to any Action, Prosecution or Penalty for so doing; anything in the said Act of Parliament for vesting the Copies of printed Books in the Authors of Purchasers of such Copies, or in any By Law contained, or any Custom or other thing to the contrary notwithstanding."[26]

In 1743 it was made a criminal offence to "sell, hawk, carry about, utter or expose to Sale any News Paper, Book, Pamphlet or Paper, deemed or construed to be a News Paper" upon unstamped paper,[27] and the various duties and penalties detailed in the 1711 Act were further extended until the 24 June 1760. By 1760, the duty on newspapers had been specifically addressed and increased by an Act of 1757,[28] while the duty on pamphlets was allowed to lapse. This meant that for the 50 years following the passing of the Statute of Anne, parliament had declared that any person could "freely print and publish" any pamphlet for which duty had not been duly paid, as the author, printer or publisher of the same was considered to have forfeited their property in the work. Parliament was clearly of the opinion that if it could provide these pamphleteers with a statutory protection for their work, it could just as easily take such ‘property' away. Moreover, if the stationers were uncertain about the impact or significance of the Statute of Anne, the inclusion of the reference to "any By Law ... or any Custom" in the Stamp Act, sent out a clear signal that, however the booksellers might regulate their own affairs, the legislature was to have the final and authoritative word.

 

5. Reconsidering the Statute of Anne
To a certain extent then, the Statute of Anne had inherited much of what had gone before, in the guise of the 1662 Act, and the numerous Bills brought before Parliament in the years prior to the 1710 legislation.[29] And yet, this was an Act as much marked by the new as by the old. It had elements of a largely original endeavour that addressed issues concerning the encouragement of learning, the position of the author, and the nature of the book trade in general. The end result was not, as Feather suggests, designed to ensure "the control of production by a few wealthy capitalists ... [and] the continued dominance of English publishing by a few London firms".[30] In his account of the developments at this time, Feather's analysis does not take sufficient account of those features within the new legislation that conflicted with the interests of the established trade. Given that foreign language works made up around ten percent of the output of the London trade in 1709,[31] the exception allowing the importing of such works printed abroad, and not just those printed "originally beyond the seas", represented a potentially substantial inroad into an otherwise lucrative market.[32] In relation to the rest of that market there was also the introduction of an external control upon the price of books and the fact that three times as many books as before had to be supplied under the new library deposit provision. Should anyone bring an action alleging infringement of his publication right, he now had to do so within three months of the offence; moreover, this was subject to the risk of providing "full costs" should the defendant win, or should the plaintiff simply become "non-suited or discontinue his action". Add to all of this the fact that the Act sought to open up the marketplace to anyone who wished to embrace it, author included, and it must have been abundantly clear that what measure of protection the booksellers had secured, had come at a certain cost.

 

To propound, as Patterson does, that the Act was simply "a trade-regulation statute directed to the problem of monopoly in various forms"[33] is, however, too reductionist an analysis. In concentrating on a copyright Act with "a direct lineage that goes back to a Star Chamber Decree of 1586",[34] Patterson focuses too closely on the relationship between the book trade and the state that had developed in the 150 years prior to the passing of the Statute of Anne. As a result, while many of these new legislative aspects can be read and understood as anti-monopoly measures, designed to address previous inequities in the book trade in general,[35] this is to overlook the other important, and indeed, central feature of the 1710 Act. Behind Parliament's endorsement of the new legislation lay a more immediate, novel and compelling rationale. This Act was not primarily concerned with securing the position of the booksellers, nor with guarding against their monopolistic control of the press, although it provided an opportunity for addressing both of these issues. Instead, this Act was primarily concerned with the continued production of books. Regardless of the fact that the booksellers might have made much of the rights and deserving nature of the author in their arguments for protection, Parliament focused upon the social contribution the author could make in the encouragement and advancement of learning. It made good sense to make some provision for writers, and inevitably booksellers, to ensure a continued production of intelligible literature. The central plank of the 1710 Act was then, and remains, a cultural quid pro quo. Parliament, to encourage "learned Men to compose and write useful Books", provided a guaranteed, if finite, right to print and reprint those works so composed. The legislators were not concerned with the recognition of any pre-existing authorial right, nor were they solely interested in the regulation of the bookseller's market. Rather, they secured the continued production of useful books through the striking of a culturally significant societal bargain, a trade-off involving, not the bookseller and censorial state, but the author, the bookseller and the reading public. It was the free market of ideas, not the marketplace of the bookseller, which provided the central focus for the Statute of Anne.

 

6. The Devil in the Detail
Where the Act falls down, is not in the comprehensibility of its general intent, but in its method of implementation, in the details. Augustine Birrell (1850-1933), commenting that the whole issue of perpetual copyright in England "was complicated, and indeed, butchered by an Act of Parliament - the first copyright statute anywhere to be found - the 8th of Good Queen Anne", regarded the Act as a "perfidious measure, rigged with curses dark" and passed by "an ignorant Legislature".[36] For Birrell, the Statute of Anne was both ill-conceived and badly executed. Ransom on the contrary suggests that, at the time it was passed, its intention and import "seemed quite clear". However, he continues that "great arguments were to arise from apparently innocent clauses".[37] In Ransom's consideration, what faults there were lay not in the language and drafting of the legislation itself, but in the pecuniary inadequacy of its penalties, the circumvention of the deposit requirements, and its failure to extend in scope to Ireland.[38] Loewenstein, like Ransom, would seek to absolve the drafters suggesting that, if the Act now seems "more irresolute and opaque than it is", this has more to do with the way in which it was subsequently treated in the litigation that followed rather than misunderstandings on the part of the legislators.[39] Rigged with curses dark? Or, exuding innocent clarity at first, while subject to subsequent obfuscation? The reality of the legislation falls somewhere between these two poles. While the central import of the Act is readily perceptible, the simple fact remains that it was a poorly drafted piece of legislation.

 

One obvious example of the legislators' poor drafting lies in the provision introduced by the Commons to ensure that the stationers could not abuse the registration requirements within the Act by simply refusing to register someone's work upon the company's books.[40] The section set out that "such Person and Persons so refusing" to register the work "shall have the like benefit as if such Entry ... had been duly made and given",[41] in addition to which, the "Clerks so refusing" would be liable, to the proprietor seeking registration, for the sum of twenty pounds. On a close reading this provision makes perfect nonsense. While the intention was clearly to afford the person who was refused by the company clerk with a form of redress, in actual fact the legislation supplied the clerk (who did the refusing) and nobody else with the remedy. Taking the whole of the provision literally, this meant that the clerk of the company might refuse to register any given work, and then, by advertising his refusal, gain for himself the right to print that work under the terms of the Act (subject to a possible £20 fine). More alarming, perhaps, is the fact that this clause was the subject of some examination, debate, and amendment in the lower house. On the third reading of the Bill the Journal of the Commons details that "[a]n amendment was proposed to be made to the Bill; to leave out ‘refused', and, instead thereof, to insert ‘refusing' ... [a]nd the same was, upon the Question put thereupon, agreed unto by the House".[42] Such amendment can only be read in one of two ways. Either, the original draft did in fact give the person who "was refused" the remedy, but that this was subsequently altered in a way that makes no sense (by giving it to the company clerk).[43] Alternatively, it might have been the case that neither part of the section, as originally drafted, made sense; i.e. that the clerk was provided with the remedy upon refusal, while the person applying to register the work was made liable for the £20 fine.[44] Upon this reading it becomes obvious that the clause was intelligently amended, but only partially. While the first of these two scenarios seems the more likely, either way, this vignette is instructive about the nature of the parliamentary scrutiny to which the Act was being subjected.[45] Neither was this the only example of the legislators' less than meticulous attention to detail. The protections guaranteed by the Act, and the library deposit requirement, had been amended to run from 10 April 1710, while the provision concerning the control of book prices was left to run, as it had initially been drafted, from 25 March. The first section bore inconsistencies in vesting the "sole right and Liberty of printing" old works, while providing for the "sole Liberty of printing and reprinting" new works. Finally, although the title and preamble to the legislation had been altered to emphasise that the Act was vesting certain rights in the author, and not securing any pre-existing rights, the preamble to the second section still spoke in terms of the "Property in every such Book" being "secured to the Proprietor or Proprietors thereof".

 

Such flaws, as they are, do not, however, represent the most problematic aspect of the statute. This is more general in nature, and lies in the lack of any attempt to define those concepts central to the Act. The legislation refers, not always consistently, to: "vesting the Copies of printed Books"; "the Author of any Book or Books"; the transfer of "the Copy or Copies of such Book or Books"; "the sole Liberty of printing such Book and Books"; "the sole Liberty of printing and reprinting such Book and Books"; "the Property in every such Book"; the registration of "the Title of the Copy of such Book or Books"; "the Author or Proprietor of such Copy or Copies"; "Nine Copies of each Book or Books"; the right "to the printing or reprinting any Book or Copy"; and finally, "the sole Right of printing or disposing of Copies". Moreover, the run up to the passing of this Act had thrown up various other ill-defined phrases, such as: the "Property of Copies";[46] the "undoubted Right to the Copy of [the] Book";[47] "Securing Property in Books";[48] "the Author and Proprietor of any Copy";[49] "Securing the Property of Copies of Books";[50] "the original indisputable Right of Publishing";[51] "the undoubted property [of] books and Writings";[52] and "the sole property of copies of printed books",[53] to name but a few. And yet at no point does the legislation bother to explain what was actually meant by ‘property', ‘copies', or ‘rights'. While the fundamental rationale for securing the legislation is identifiable and comprehensible, this does not necessarily mean that, at the time, there existed any clear idea or appreciation as to what was meant by the concept of actually having a property in books. As Feather points out, however, this lack of precision operated in the interests of the booksellers:

"The leading members of the book trade who had led the support both for a law and for a particular form of law had no real interest in precise definitions. They knew exactly what traditional rights and practices were being protected ... For the trade, the 1710 Act represented a simple continuation of legal and commercial practices which had developed since the middle of the sixteenth century, but which had been under challenge in the absence of any statutory authority since 1695."[54]

And yet the Statute of Anne was markedly different from that which had gone before - the world of the seventeenth century stationer was fast disappearing -and the ambiguities and imprecision of the legislation would provoke considerable debate for some time to come. Daniel Defoe (1660?-1731), writing in his weekly Review of the Affairs of France, commented upon "the miserable Havock that is made in this Nation, with the Property of the Subject, with Relation to Books".[55] He penned these words a week in advance of the Statute of Anne receiving its second reading before the House of Commons. He might equally well have reserved his caustic observation to critique the final form of the Act that, though well intentioned, would spawn more than half a century of controversy, and secure a legacy of misunderstanding. A miserable havock indeed.

 

7. References

Governmental papers and legislation

Statute of Monopolies, 1624, 21 Jac.I, c.3

Licensing Act, 1662, 13 & 14 Car.II, c.33

Statute of Anne, 1710, 8 Anne c.19

Stamp Act, 1711, 10 Anne, c.19

An Act for granting to His Majesty several Rates and Duties upon Indentures, Leases, Bonds and other Deeds; and upon News Papers, Advertisements and Almanacks, 1757, 30 Geo.II, c.19

 

Books and Articles

Birrell, A., Copyright in Books (London: Cassell & Co., 1899)

Deazley, R., On the Origin of the Right to Copy: Charting the Movement of Copyright Law in Eighteenth Century Britain, 1695-1775 (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2004)

Downie, J.A., Robert Harley and the Press: Propaganda and Public Opinion in the Age of Swift and Defoe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978)

Dugas, D-J., "The Book Trade in London in 1709 (Part One)", Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 95 (2001): 32-58

Feather, J., "The Book Trade in Politics: The Making of the Copyright Act of 1710", Publishing History, 8 (1980): 19-44

Feather, J., "The English Book Trade and the Law 1695-1799", Publishing History, 12 (1982): 51-75

Feather, J., Publishing, Piracy and Politics: an historical study of copyright in Britain (London: Mansell, 1994)

Locke, J., "Memorandum on the 1662 Act". In The Correspondence of John Locke, in Eight Volumes. Edited by De Beer, E.S. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), Vol. 5, 785-95

Loewenstein, J., The Author's Due: Printing and the Prehistory of Copyright (London: University of Chicago Press, 2002)

Patterson, L.R., Copyright in Historical Perspective (Nashville: Vanderbilt University, 1968)

Ransom, H., The First Copyright Statute: An Essay on An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, 1710 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1956)

Rogers, S., "The Use of Royal Licences for Printing in England, 1695-1760: A Bibliography", The Library, 1 (2000): 133-92

Rose, M., Authors and Owners: The Invention of Copyright (London: Harvard University Press, 1993)

Siebert, F.S., Freedom of the Press in England, 1476-1776 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1965)


[1] Journal of the House of Commons (CJ), 16: 240.

[2] Bill for the Encouragement of Learning, and for the Securing the Property of Copies of Books to the Rightful Owners thereof, Lincoln's Inn Library, MP 102, Fol.98. For the progress of the Bill through Parliament see: CJ, 16: 300, 338, 369, 394-5, and the Journal of the House of Lords (LJ), 19: 109, 123, 134, 138, 140, 143.

[3] Clause 1.

[4] Clause 2.

[5] Clause 4.

[6] Clause 3.

[7] Clause 6. In effect this meant that in the case of a decision in the defendant's favour, or should the case become discontinued, or the plaintiff become non-suited, the defandant was able to recover his costs. About this provision Ransom writes: "Included in the act to discourage unnecessary interference with the trade, this section inevitably discouraged suits at common law by increasing the risks for the plaintiff. As a result, injured proprietors of copy resorted to threats or to actions in Chancery"; Harry Ransom, The First Copyright Statute: An Essay on An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, 1710 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1956), 104.

[8] Clause 5.

[9] This was further extended by the Lords to include the "Libraries of the four Universities of Scotland", thus tripling the previous legal deposit requirement in the 1662 Act. In addition, the Commons also introduced a provision that should the "WareHouse-Keeper" of the company, or the proprietor of the relevant copy, fail to produce the books for the named libraries, then they were to forfeit "the Sum of Five Pounds for every Copy not so delivered" as well as "the value of the said printed Copy".

[10] It is interesting to consider this section in light of earlier attitudes to importing works printed abroad. The 1662 section governing imported works was designed to reflect the dual aspects of the Licensing Act, that of the encouragement and regulation of the printing trade, as well as the detection and censoring of treasonous and seditious works (see ss. 5, 6, 9 and 20). When parliament came to legislate in the 1690s, they did so with the primary issue of the control of the press uppermost in their minds. This being the case, the Bill in November 1695 simply declared that the importer of any "treasonable, seditious, atheistical or heretical matter" was to "be deemed and taken as author or printer of the same and shall be answerable and punishable as such" (see clauses 11 and 12). Now, in contrast to what had gone before, the colour of the legislation was neither restrictive nor censorial, nor was it specifically designed to improve the commercial security of the London booksellers. Instead, it actively encouraged importing those books that were taken to be beneficial to the promotion and advancement of study, remaining true to the stated purpose of the Act, the "encouragement of learning". In this attempt to liberate such learned texts from the controls of the indigenous market, one can perhaps trace influences of Locke's earlier commentary upon the state of the trade and its relationship with the dissemination of and access to significant scholarly materials. J. Locke, "Memorandum on the 1662 Act", in The Correspondence of John Locke, in Eight Volumes ed. De Beer, E.S. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), 5: 785-95; see: uk_1690.

[11] s. 6; this was added at the report stage in the House of Commons.

[12] s.10.

[13] The Licensing Act, 1662, provided in s.18 "[t]hat nothing in this Act contained, shall be construed to extend to the Prejudice or infringing of any just Rights and Privileges of either of the two Universities of this Realm, touching and concerning the Licensing or Printing of Books in either of the said Universities"; similarly s.22 set out that nothing in the Act would operate to "prejudice the just Rights and Privileges granted by His Majesty, or any of His Royal Predecessors, to any Person or Persons, under His Majesty's Great Seal, or otherwise; but that such Person or Persons may exercise and use such Rights and Privileges as aforesaid, according to their respective Grants; any Thing in this Act to the contrary notwithstanding". By comparison, the Commons now stipulated that nothing in the new Act was to prejudice "or confirm" any right which the universities or the patentees might have "or claim to have"; s.9.

[14] CJ, 16: 369.

[15] s.1.

[16] s.3.

[17] M. Rose, Authors and Owners: The Invention of Copyright (London: Harvard University Press, 1993), 46-47.

[18] Ibid., 44-45.

[19] See: uk_1690.

[20] See More Reasons Humbly Offer'd for the Bill for Encouraging Learning and Securing the Property of Copies of Books, 1709, Lincoln's Inn Library, MP102, Fol.101.

[21] See: uk_1690.

[22] An Act for Laying Down several Duties upon all Sope and Paper made in Great Britain or imported into the same, 1711, 10 Anne, c.19. On the reasons behind the introduction of the Stamp Act, and its immediate effect upon the press, see J. A. Downie, Robert Harley and the Press: Propaganda and Public Opinion in the Age of Swift and Defoe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), 149-61, and F. S. Siebert, Freedom of the Press in England, 1476-1776 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1965), 305-22.

[23] s.32.

[24] s.38; for a full account of the various charges involved, see J. Feather, "The English Book Trade and the Law 1695-1799", Publishing History, 12 (1982): 51-76.

[25] s.63.

[26] s.112; moreover, every such person involved in the same was to forfeit £20 with full costs of suit.

[27] s.5; note that in 1772 it was made a transportable offence (12 George III, c.48) and by 1782 the selling of such unstamped materials was punishable by death (29 George III, c.50).

[28] An Act for granting to His Majesty several Rates and Duties upon Indentures, Leases, Bonds and other Deeds; and upon News Papers, Advertisements and Almanacks, 1757, 30 Geo.II, c.19. Siebert suggests that newspapers were specifically targeted because the government reasoned that "in time of war [the Seven Years' War] an anxious public was willing to pay an increased subscription price for news of the military and naval engagements"; Siebert, 320.

[29] For details see R. Deazley, On the Origin of the Right to Copy: Charting the Movement of Copyright Law in Eignteenth Century Britain, 1695-1775 (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2004), 1-29.

[30] J. Feather, "The Book Trade in Politics: The Making of the Copyright Act of 1710", Publishing History, 8 (1980): 19-44 (37). While conceding that "[t]he trade had not won on every point" Feather elsewhere suggests that "[n]evertheless, in general this was a very satisfactory outcome for the book trade in several respects. Most importantly it had gained recognition of rights in copies, and a means of legal redress against the pirates"; J. Feather, Publishing, Piracy and Politics: an historical study of copyright in Britain (London: Mansell, 1994), 62.

[31] These figures are based upon data presented in D-J Dugas, "The Book Trade in London in 1709 (Part One)", Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 95 (2001): 32-58. Of the 1019 texts printed and published in London in 1709 Dugas identifies 782 as being attributable to a specific printer or publisher. Of these 782 publications, 77 were works in a foreign language.

[32] One consequence of this was that publishers, booksellers and authors often sought a royal licence to protect their foreign language works instead. For information on the various licences that were granted before and after the 1710 Act see S. Rogers, "The Use of Royal Licences for Printing in England, 1695-1760: A Bibliography", The Library, 1 (2000): 133-92. Alternatively publishers might petition Parliament for protection; see for example, the Act for granting to Samuel Buckley, Citizen and Stationer of London, the sole Liberty of printing and reprinting the Histories of Thuanus, with Additions and Improvements, during the Time therein limited, 1734, 7 Geo.II, c.24.

[33] L.R. Patterson, Copyright in Historical Perspective (Nashville: Vanderbilt University, 1968), 150.

[34] Ibid., 222-23.

[35] Ibid., 144-45.

[36] A. Birrell, Copyright in Books (London: Cassell & Co., 1899), 19, 22.

[37] H. Ransom, The First Copyright Statute: An Essay on An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, 1710 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1956), 99.

[38] Ibid., 105.

[39] J. Loewenstein, The Author's Due: Printing and the Prehistory of Copyright (London: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 249.

[40] s.3.

[41] This was subject to advertising in the London Gazette that they had been refused registration.

[42] CJ, 16: 369.

[43] In this case the original draft of the Act would have run as follows:

"Provided nevertheless that if the Clerk of the said Company of Stationers for the Time being, shall refuse or neglect to register, or make such Entry or Entries, or to give such Certificate, being thereunto required by the Author or Proprietor of such Copy or Copies, in the presence of two or more credible Witnesses, that then such Person and Persons so refused, Notice being first duly given of such Refusal, by an Advertisement in the Gazette, shall have the like benefit as if such Entry or Entries, Certificate or Certificates had been duly made and given; and that the Clerks so refusing shall, for every such Offence, forfeit to the Proprietor of such Copy or Copies the Sum of Twenty Pounds, to be recovered in any of His Majesty's Courts of Record at Westminster, by Action of debt, Bill, Plaint, or Information, in which no Wager of Law, Essoign, Privilege or Protection, or more than One Imparlance shall be allowed"; emphasis added.

[44] In this case the section as originally drafted would have been as follows:

"Provided nevertheless that if the Clerk of the said Company of Stationers for the Time being, shall refuse or neglect to register, or make such Entry or Entries, or to give such Certificate, being thereunto required by the Author or Proprietor of such Copy or Copies, in the presence of two or more credible Witnesses, that then such Person and Persons so refusing, Notice being first duly given of such Refusal, by an Advertisement in the Gazette, shall have the like benefit as if such Entry or Entries, Certificate or Certificates had been duly made and given; and that the Clerks so refused shall, for every such Offence, forfeit to the Proprietor of such Copy or Copies the Sum of Twenty Pounds, to be recovered in any of His Majesty's Courts of Record at Westminster, by Action of debt, Bill, Plaint, or Information, in which no Wager of Law, Essoign, Privilege or Protection, or more than One Imparlance shall be allowed; emphasis added.

[45] In subsequent attempts to legislate, the later drafters did recognise and try to correct this flaw in the original Act; on 26 March 1735, when the Bill for making more effectual an Act, passed in the Eight Year of the Reign of her late Majesty Queen Anne was presented to the Commons (CJ 22: 431), it had modified the wording of the 1710 Act to provide that "the author or proprietor of such copy" could advertise in the Gazette to secure the protection of the Act. This Bill however was never enacted and the imperfect, incoherent drafting remained on the statute book for over 130 years when the Statute of Anne was repealed and replaced by the Copyright Act, 1842, 5 & 6 Vic., c.45.

[46] Defoe, A Review, 8 November 1705.

[47] Reasons humbly Offer'd for a Bill for the Encouragement of Learning, and Improvement of Printing, 1706, Lincoln's Inn Library, MP102, Fol.312.

[48] Reasons Humbly Offer'd for the Bill for the Encouragement of Learning and for Securing the Property of Copies of Books to the Rightful Owners thereof, 1709, Lincoln's Inn Library, MP102, Fol.100.

[49] Defoe, A Review, 6 December 1709.

[50] See the first draft of the 1710 Bill.

[51] The Case of the Booksellers Right to their Copies, or sole Power of Printing their respective Books, 1709, BL, 1887.b.58(3).

[52] Preamble to the first draft of the 1710 Bill.

[53] CJ, 16: 394.

[54] Feather, Publishing, Piracy and Politics, 63.

[55] Defoe, A Review, 2 February 1710.



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