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The following and subsequent extracts taken from Sir James Stephen's Digest' furnish a brief summary of the leading features of the present copyright law.

Book defined-Law of Copyright in Books.

The word "book" means and includes every volume, part or division of a volume, pamphlet, sheet of letter-press, sheet of music, map, chart, or plan, separately published.

The word "copyright" means the sole and exclusive liberty of printing, or otherwise multiplying copies of any subject to which the word is applied.

When a book is published in the lifetime of its author, the copyright therein is the personal property of the author and his assigns from the date of such publication, for whichever may be the longer of the two following terms, that is to say:

1. A term of 42 years from publication.

2. The life of the author, and a term of seven years, beginning from his death.

If the publication takes place after the author's death, the proprietor of the author's manuscript and his assigns have copyright in his book for a term of 42 years from its first publication.

If one person employs and pays another to write a book on the terms that the copyright therein shall belong to the employer, the employer has the same copyright therein as if he had been the author.

If the publisher or proprietor of any encyclopædia, review, magazine, or periodical work, or work published in parts or series, employs and pays persons to compose any volume, part, essay, article, or portion thereof, on the terms that the copyright therein shall belong to such publisher or proprietor, such publisher or proprietor has upon publication the same rights as if he were the author of the whole work (with the following exceptions):

1. After 28 years from the first publication of any essay, article, or portion in any review, magazine, or other periodical work of a like nature [not being an encyclopædia], the right of publishing the same in a separate form reverts to the author for the remainder of the term for which his copyright would have endured if the same had been originally published by him elsewhere.

2. During the said term of 28 years the publisher or proprietor may not publish any such essay, article, or portion, separately or singly, without the consent of the author or his assigns.

The author of any such magazine as aforesaid may, by contract with any such publisher or proprietor, reserve the right of publishing any work, his composition, in a separate form, and if he does so he is entitled to copyright in such composition when so published for the same term as if such publication were the first publication, but without prejudice to the right of the publisher or proprietor to publish the same as part of such periodical work.

In order to provide against the suppression of books of importance to the public, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council are empowered, on complaint that the proprietor of the copyright in any book after the death of its

author has refused to republish or allow the republication of the same, and that by reason of such refusal such book may be withheld from the public, to grant a license to such complainant to publish such book in such manner and subject to such conditions as they think fit, and the complainant may publish such book accordingly.

It applies

1. To all books published after 1st July, 1842.

2. To all books published before that day in which copyright was then subsisting, unless such copyright was vested in any publisher or other person who acquired it for any consideration other than that of natural love or affection, in which case such copyright endures for the term then provided for by law, unless the author, if living on that day, or if he were then dead his personal representative, and (in either case) the proprietor of the copyright, registered before the expiration of the term of copyright to which they were then entitled, consent to accept the benefits of the Act 5 & 6 Vict. c. 45, in a form provided in a schedule therein.

Who may obtain Copyright in Books.

In order that copyright in a published book may be obtained, the book must in all cases be published in the United Kingdom. The author or other person seeking to entitle himself to copyright may be either—

(a) A natural born or naturalized subject of the Queen, in which case his place of residence at the time of the publication of the book is immaterial; or

(b) A person who at the time of the publication of the book in which copyright is to be obtained owes local and temporary allegiance to Her Majesty by residing at that time in some part of Her Majesty's dominions.

It is probable, but not certain, that an alien friend who publishes a book in the United Kingdom while resident out of Her Majesty's dominions, acquires copyright throughout Her Majesty's dominions by such publication.

Previous and Contemporary Publication out of the United Kingdom.

No copyright in a book published in the United Kingdom can be obtained if the book has been previously published by the author in any foreign country, but the contemporaneous publication of a book in a foreign country and in the United Kingdom does not prevent the author from obtaining copyright in the United Kingdom.

It is uncertain whether an author obtains copyright by publishing a book in the United Kingdom, after a previous publication thereof in parts of Her Majesty's dominions out of the United Kingdom.

It is uncertain whether an author acquires copyright in any part of Her Majesty's dominions out of the United Kingdom (apart from any local law as to copyright which may be in force there) by the publication of a book in such part of Her Majesty's dominions.


"It is said that Her Majesty and her successors have the right of granting by patent from time to time to their printers an exclusive right to print the text of the authorised version of the Bible, of the Book of Common Prayer, and (possibly) the text of Acts of Parliament." The words "It is said" seem to deprive this statement of absolute authority. Her Majesty's Sta

tionery Office recently warned publishers that there is "no difference as to copyright between the publications of the Government and of private individuals," but "it is not the intention of the Stationery Office to interfere with the privileges hitherto allowed to newspapers of publishing information of public interest extracted from parliamentary papers or the official Gazettes.”


It appears that at present the University of Oxford possesses six copyrights in perpetuity, and that the University of Cambridge has none, and the Commissioners are of opinion that this exceptional privilege should be omitted from the future law, and the Universities and other institutions placed on the same footing as other copyright owners, not, however, without their consent as regards existing copyrights.

According to SIR JAMES STEPHEN "the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, St. Andrews, and Aberdeen, each college or house of learning at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, Trinity College, Dublin, and the Colleges of Eton, Westminster, and Winchester have for ever the sole liberty of printing and reprinting all such books as have been or hereafter may be bequeathed or given to them by the authors thereof, or by their representatives unless they were given or bequeathed for any limited term.” It should be added that this right only exists for books actually printed at their own printing presses within the said universities or colleges respectively, and for their sole benefit and advantage.


Under the existing law, copyright can be obtained, first, by a natural born or a naturalized subject of the United Kingdom ;* secondly, by a foreigner residing at the time of first publication in the United Kingdom;* and thirdly, by an alien friend first publishing in the United Kingdom,* though he may never

* By the International and Colonial Copyright Act, 1886, before referred to and given in full in the Appendix, the words United Kingdom may now read “a British possession." See also clause 7 of the new Bill given in Appendix III.

have resided therein. This latter case has been disputed, but in a well-known trial (Low v. Routledge) it was distinctly laid down by Lord Chancellor Cairns in these words :

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"The aim of the Legislature is to increase the common stock of the literature of the country; and if that stock can be increased by the publication for the first time here of a new and valuable work composed by an alien who has never been in the country, I see nothing in the wording of the Act which should prevent, and everything in the professed object of the Act, and in its wide and general provisions, which should entitle a person to the protection of the Act in return, and compensation for the addition he has made to the literature of the country."

This opinion of Lord Cairns, although it has not the value of an absolute decision, has never since been seriously disputed, and it is now recommended to be made absolute by statute.

SIR JAMES STEPHEN says in reference to this, "It is probable, but not certain, that an alien friend who publishes a book in the United Kingdom while resident out of Her Majesty's Dominions, acquires copyright throughout Her Majesty's Dominions by such publication." Of course the new INTERNATIONAL AND COLONIAL ACT, 1886, extends this PROBABILITY to all the British possessions. The New Copyright Bill if passed will convert this probability into certainty.

There are other anomalies in the existing state of the law, more especially as regards the colonies, the chief of which seem to have arisen from the fact that the aim of the copyright law being, as pointed out by Lord Cairns, " to increase the common stock of literature" within the United Kingdom, the term could not be made to apply to the colonies. Thus, as was pointed out in the evidence before the Commissioners, a foreigner publishing an English work first in England may obtain copyright in England and the colonies; an Englishman publishing first abroad will lose his copyright at home; a colonist who publishes first in his own colony cannot obtain copyright in Great Britain.

Copyright in the United Kingdom extends to every part of the British dominions; but if a book be published first in any part of the British dominions other than the United Kingdom, the author cannot obtain copyright either in the United

Kingdom or in any of the colonies; unless there be some local law in the colony of publication under which he can obtain it within the limits of that colony.

To remedy these evils, the Commissioners recommend that, where a work has been first published in any one of the British possessions, the proprietor of such work shall be entitled to the same copyright and to the same benefits, remedies, and privileges in respect of such work as he would have been entitled to if the work had been first published in the United Kingdom; and that a British author, who publishes a work out of the British dominions, shall not be prevented thereby from obtaining copyright within the same by a subsequent publication therein, provided such republication be within three years of the first publicatfon.

And as to aliens, the Commissioners suggest giving them "the same rights as British subjects, if they first publish their works in the British dominions."

(The anomalies and evils above pointed out are now happily all done away with by clause 8 of "The International and Copyright Act, 1886." See Appendix I.)


With reference to registration under the present system there can scarcely be two opinions that, as the Commissioners say, "it is practically useless, if not deceptive;" and as it is optional, and "the fees unnecessarily high," it is seldom resorted to except in cases of infringement, as no action can be maintained until registration has been performed.

Under the existing law the fee for entering any book, right of representations of a dramatic piece, or musical composition, is five shillings.

The plan which the Commissioners propose to adopt seems to be one which should be well considered by all interested in the subject; they are satisfied that registration should be insisted upon, that it should be made compulsory, and that—


A copyright owner should not be entitled to take or maintain

* Sir James Stephen says this is uncertain.

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