Past historic 5: common law copyright in England

Summer, from
James Thomson's
The Seasons
The fifth item in the little bundle of photocopied articles on IP history which this Kat researched and wrote back in the 1980s, when he was still a full-time academic, takes a look at two cases which, though never read by copyright lawyers today, can be found surprising often on students' reading lists (no -- most students don't read them either): the twin peaks of 18th copyright case law in England, Millar v Taylor and Donaldson v Beckett. It was these decisions which confirmed that, yes, there was such a thing as common law copyright but, no, it didn't survive the Act of Anne in respect of books in which the statutory term of copyright accorded to them by that Act had expired. 

Incidentally, although these two cases aren't read any more, the literary work which was the subject of the litigation in them is of some interest even today: James Thomson's The Seasons. Published in a scholarly annotated edition by the Clarendon Press, Oxford, as recently as 1981, it is now inevitably available on Google Books.

This article appeared as "Legal Outrage and Established Guile" and was first published in [1981] European Intellectual Property Review 295 to 299. You can read it in full here.
Past historic 5: common law copyright in England Past historic 5: common law copyright in England Reviewed by Jeremy on Thursday, November 24, 2011 Rating: 5

No comments:

All comments must be moderated by a member of the IPKat team before they appear on the blog. Comments will not be allowed if the contravene the IPKat policy that readers' comments should not be obscene or defamatory; they should not consist of ad hominem attacks on members of the blog team or other comment-posters and they should make a constructive contribution to the discussion of the post on which they purport to comment.

It is also the IPKat policy that comments should not be made completely anonymously, and users should use a consistent name or pseudonym (which should not itself be defamatory or obscene, or that of another real person), either in the "identity" field, or at the beginning of the comment. Current practice is to, however, allow a limited number of comments that contravene this policy, provided that the comment has a high degree of relevance and the comment chain does not become too difficult to follow.

Learn more here:

Powered by Blogger.