The Statute of Anne, short title Copyright Act 1709 8 Anne c.19; long 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, was the first copyright law in the Kingdom of Great Britain (thus the United Kingdom). It was enacted in 1709 and entered into force on 10 April 1710. It is generally considered to be the first fully-fledged copyright statute. It is named for Queen Anne, during whose reign it was enacted.
The origins of copyright law in most European countries lies in efforts by governments to regulate and control the output of printers. The technology of printing was invented and widely established in the 15th and 16th centuries. Before the printing press a writing, once created, could only be physically multiplied by the highly laborious and error-prone process of manual copying out. Printing allowed for multiple exact copies of a work, leading to a more rapid and widespread circulation of ideas and information. While governments and church encouraged printing in many ways, which allowed the dissemination of Bibles and government information, works of dissent and criticism could also circulate rapidly. As a consequence, governments established controls over printers across Europe, requiring them to have official licences to trade and produce books. The licenses typically gave printers the exclusive right to print particular works for a fixed period of years, and enabled the printer to prevent others from printing the same work during that period. The licenses could only grant rights to print in the territory of the state that had granted them, but they did usually prohibit the import of foreign printing.
In England the printers, known as stationers, formed a collective organisation, the Stationers' Company. In the 16th century the Stationers' Company was given the power to require all lawfully printed books to be entered into its register. Only members of the Stationers' Company could enter books into the register. This meant that the Stationers' Company achieved a dominant position over publishing in 17th century England (no equivalent arrangement formed in Scotland and Ireland). But the monopoly, granted to the Stationers' Company through the Licensing Act 1662, came to an end when parliament decided to not renew the Act after it lapsed in May 1695.
In 1707 the parliaments of England and Scotland were united as a result of the Anglo-Scottish Union. The new parliament was able to change the laws in both countries and an important early piece of legislation was the Copyright Act of 1709, also known as the Statute of Anne, after Queen Anne. The act came into force in 1710 and was the first copyright statute. Its full title was "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 draft bill of the Statute of Anne underwent considerable changes during its passage through the House of Parliament, with the House of Lords making the most significant amendments. The original draft bill was only six clauses long and drew heavily on the Licensing Act 1662. It forbade the printing, reprinting or import of any book which “any author shall hereafter compose or write” or which any bookseller or printer purchased or acquired from the author, subject to financial penalties. The first draft bill also required registration with the Stationers' Company prior to publication, as well as requiring a deposit of the book for the King’s Library and that of Oxford and Cambridge. The draft bill furthermore proposed a system of controlling the cost of books published at “too high or unreasonable” a price. According to the draft bill anyone was free to import and sell any “classics” originally printed “beyond the seas”.
The draft bill’s preamble and first section placed the emphasis on the “copy of a book” as a clearly recognisable form of property, equal in status to any other tangible or estate. The original draft bill did not propose any limits to the term of protection of such property. The preamble of the draft bill was as follows:
In 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 draft bill’s title and preamble were subject to significant change, both were reduced in length and confined to the “encouragement of learned men to compose and write useful books". In exchange for the continuous production of books, the draft bill was amended to offer the “sole right and liberty of printing”, ie the right to copy or reproduce. The idea of perpetual rights was dropped and a limited copyright term introduced.
The long title of the Statute of Anne, as passed by parliament, was "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 coming into force of the Statute of Anne in April 1710 marked a historic moment in the development of copyright law. As the world's first copyright statute it granted publishers of a book legal protection of 14 years with the commencement of the statute. It also granted 21 years of protection for any book already in print. The 14 year copyright term could be renewed for another 14 if the author was still alive after the first term expired.
The statute determined that the "copy" was the "sole liberty of printing and reprinting" a book and this liberty could be infringed by any person who printed, reprinted or imported the book without consent. Those infringing copyright had to pay a fine of one penny for every sheet of the book, one moiety of which went to the author, the other to the Crown. In today’s terms this was a considerable fine. In addition the book in question was to be destroyed. Leaving in place the existing system of registration, the statute specified that action against infringement could only be brought if the title had been entered in the register at the Stationers' Company before publication. The formal requirements of registration enabled users to locate the owners of copyrighted works. The requirement for copies of published books to be deposited in university libraries ensured that there was public access to copyrighted works.
The statute was the first to recognise the legal right of authorship, but it did not provide a coherent understanding of authorship or authors' rights. While the statute established the author as legal owner, and so providing the basis for the development of authors' copyright, it also provided a 21 year copyright term to books already in print. At the end of the 21 years granted by the statute the concept of literary property was still a booksellers' rather than an author' concern, as most authors continued to sell their works outright to booksellers. Given that the statute primarily intended to encourage public learning and to regulate the book trade, any benefits for authors in the statute were incidental. Throughout the 18th century, at the encouragement of the booksellers, rather than the authors, an understanding emerged that copyright originated in author's rights to the product of his labour. Thus it was argued that the primary purpose of copyright was to protect authors' rights, not the policy goal of encouraging public learning.
Compared with the 15 years following the non-renewal of the Stationers' Company's monopoly, when there was no legal protection available to the book trade, the statute provided London booksellers with relative security. Booksellers had lobbied parliament as the statute was drafted and the statute did provide a property in books to bring stability to the book trade. But it also introduced measures designed to ensure that no monopolistic abuse could be established in the book trade.
The Statute of Anne had a much broader social focus and remit than the monopoly granted to the Stationers' Company. The statute was concerned with the reading public, the continued production of useful literature, and the advancement and spread of education. The central plank of the statute is a social quid pro quo; to encourage "learned men to compose and write useful books" the statute guaranteed the finite right to print and reprint those works. It established a pragmatic bargain involving authors, the booksellers and the public. The Statute of Anne ended the old system whereby only literature that met the censorship standards administers by the booksellers could appear in print. The statute furthermore created a public domain for literature, as previously all literature belonged to the booksellers forever.
According to Patterson and Lindberg, the Statute of Anne:
"... transformed the stationers' copyright - which had been used as a device of monopoly and an instrument of censorship - into a trade-regulation concept to promote learning and to curtail the monopoly of publishers... The features of the Statute of Anne that justify the epithet of trade regulation included the limited term of copyright, the availability of copyright to anyone, and the price-control provisions. Copyright, rather than being perpetual, was now limited to a term of fourteen years, with a like renewal term being available only to the author (and only if the author were living at the end of the first term)."
When the statutory copyright term provided for by the Statute of Anne began to expire in 1731 London booksellers thought to defend their dominant position by seeking injunctions from the Court of Chancery for works by authors that fell outside the statute's protection. At the same time the London booksellers lobbied parliament to extend the copyright term provided by the Statute of Anne. Eventually, in a case known as Midwinter v. Hamilton (1743-1748), the London booksellers turned to common law and started a 30 year period known as the battle of the booksellers. The battle of the booksellers saw London booksellers locking horns with the newly emerging Scottish book trade over the right to reprint works falling outside the protection of the Statute of Anne. The Scottish booksellers argued that no common law copyright existed in an author's work. The London booksellers argued that the Statute of Anne only supplemented and supported a pre-existing common law copyright. The dispute was argued out in a number of notable cases, including Millar v. Kincaid (1749-1751) and Tonson v. Collins (1761-1762). An anonymous pamphleteer protested against the lobbying of the booksellers for an extension of the copyright term set by the Statute of Anne in 1735, writing:
"I see no reason for granting a further term now, which will not hold as well for granting it again and again, as often as the old ones expire... it will in effect be establishing a perpetual monopoly, a thing deservedly odious in the eye of the law; it will be a great cramp to trade, a discouragement to learning, no benefit to authors, but a general tax on the public; and all this only to increase the private gain of booksellers."
The question of whether copyright term is limited or perpetual is of central importance to the understanding of copyright. The Statute of Anne was primarily legislation to regulate the book trade, intended to separate rights in copies from censorship. While its rationale was not to protect authors, the statute thought to encourage public learning and provide a structure to the book trade that would limit the Stationers' Company's economic monopoly. When Donaldson v Beckett reached the House of Lords in 1774 only one Lord, Lord Lyttelton, spoke in favour of common law copyright. Lord Camden was most strident in his rejection of the common law copyright, warning the Lords that should they vote in favour of common law copyright, effectively a perpetual copyright, "all our learning will be locked up in the hands of the Tonsons and the Lintots of the age". Moreover he warned that booksellers would then set upon books whatever price they pleased "till the public became as much their slaves, as their own hackney compilers are". He declared that "Knowledge and science are not things to be bound in such cobweb chains."
In its ruling the House of Lords established that copyright was a "creature of statute", and that the rights and responsibilities in copyright were determined by legislation. There is however still disagreement over whether the House of Lords affirmed the existence of common law copyright before it was superseded by the Statute of Anne. The Lords had traditionally been hostile to the booksellers' monopoly and were aware of how the doctrine of common law copyright, promoted by the booksellers, was used to support their case for a perpetual copyright. The Lords clearly voted against perpetual copyright, and eventually an understanding was established whereby authors had a pre-existing common law copyright over their work, but that with the Statute of Anne parliament had limited these natural rights in order to strike a more appropriate balance between the interests of the author and the wider social good. According to Patterson and Livingston there remains confusion about the nature of copyright ever since. Copyright has come to be viewed as a natural law right of the author as well as the statutory grant of a limited monopoly. One theory holds that copyright's origin occurs at the creation of a work, the other that it origin exists only through the copyright statute.
The Statute of Anne did not apply to the American colonies, although some scholars have asserted otherwise. The colonies' economy was largely agrarian, hence copyright law was not a priority, resulting in only three private copyright acts being passed in America prior to 1783. Two of the acts were limited to seven years, the other was limited to a term of five years. In 1783 several authors' petitions persuaded the Continental Congress "that nothing is more properly a man's own than the fruit of his study, and that the protection and security of literary property would greatly tends to encourage genius and to promote useful discoveries." But under the Articles of Confederation, the Continental Congress had no authority to issue copyright, instead it passed a resolution encouraging the States to "secure to the authors or publishers of any new book not hitherto printed... the copy right of such books for a certain time not less than fourteen years from the first publication; and to secure to the said authors, if they shall survive the term first mentioned,... the copy right of such books for another term of time no less than fourteen years. Three states had already enacted copyright statutes in 1783 prior to the Continental Congress resolution, and in the subsequent three years all of the remaining states except Delaware passed a copyright statute. Seven of the States followed the Statute of Anne and the Continental Congress' resolution by providing two fourteen year terms. The five remaining States granted copyright for single terms of fourteen, twenty and twenty one years, with no right of renewal.
At the Constitutional Convention 1787 both James Madison of Virginia and Charles Pinckney of South Carolina submitted proposals that would allow Congress the power to grant copyright for a limited time. These proposals are the origin of the Copyright Clause in the United States Constitution, which allows the granting of copyright and patents for a limited time to serve a utilitarian function, namely "to promote the progress of science and useful arts". The first federal copyright act, the Copyright Act of 1790 granted copyright for a term of "fourteen years from the time of recording the title thereof", with a right of renewal for another fourteen years if the author survived to the end of the first term. The act covered not only books, but also maps and charts. With exception of the provision on maps and charts the Copyright Act of 1790 is copied almost verbatim from the Statute of Anne.
At the time works only received protection under federal statutory copyright if the statutory formalities, such as a proper copyright notice, were satisfied. If this was not the case the work immediately entered into the public domain. In 1834 the Supreme Court ruled in Wheaton v. Peters, a case similar to the British Donaldson v Beckett of 1774, that although the author of an unpublished work had a common law right to control the first publication of that work, the author did not have a common law right to control reproduction following the first publication of the work.
Several monographs on copyright date the text to 1709. However, due to changes in the reckoning of the New Year from March to January, the correct year of enactment according to the modern calendar would be 1710. See also Calendar (New Style) Act 1750.
|←Wikisource:Legislative documents||Statute of Anne|
|The Statute of Anne (short title Copyright Act 1709 8 Anne c.19; long 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") was the first copyright law in the Kingdom of Great Britain (thus the United Kingdom), enacted in 1709 and entering into force on April 10, 1710. It is generally considered to be the first fully-fledged copyright law. It is named for Queen Anne, during whose reign it was enacted.— Excerpted from Statute of Anne on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.|
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.
I. Whereas printers, booksellers, and other persons have of late frequently taken the liberty of printing, reprinting, and publishing, or causing to be printed, reprinted, and published, books and other writings, without the consent of the authors or proprietors of such books and writings, to their very great detriment, and too often to the ruin of them and their families: for preventing therefore such practices for the future, and for the encouragement of learned men to compose and write useful books; may it please your Majesty, that it may be enacted, and be it enacted by the Queen's most excellent majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same;
II. And whereas many persons may through ignorance offend against this act, unless some provision be made, whereby the property in every such book, as is intended by this act to be secured to the proprietor or proprietors thereof, may be ascertained, as likewise the consent of such proprietor or proprietors for the printing or reprinting of such book or books may from time to time be known; be it therefore further enacted by the authority aforesaid,
III. 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 refusing, shall, for any such offence, forfeit to the proprietor of such copy or copies the sum of twenty pounds, to be recovered in any of her Majesty's courts of record at Westminster, by action of debt, bill, plaint, or information, in which no wager of law, essoin, privilege or protection, or more than one imparlance shall be allowed.
IV. Provided nevertheless, and it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any bookseller or booksellers, printer or printers, shall, after the said five and twentieth day of March, one thousand seven hundred and ten, set a price upon, or sell, or expose to sale, any book or books at such a price or rate as shall be conceived by any person or persons to be too high and unreasonable; it shall and may be lawful for any person or persons, to make complaint thereof to the lord archbishop of Canterbury for the time being, the lord chancellor, or lord keeper of the great seal of Great Britain for the time being, the lord bishop of London for the time being, the lord chief justice of the court of Queen's Bench, the lord chief justice of the court of Common Pleas, the lord chief baron of the court of Exchequer for the time being, the vice chancellors of the two universities for the time being, in that part of Great Britain called England; the lord president of the sessions for the time being, the lord chief justice general for the time being, the lord chief baron of the Exchequer for the time being, the rector of the college of Edinburgh for the time being, in that part of Great Britain called Scotland; who, or any one of them, shall and have hereby full power and authority, from time to time, to send for, summon, or call before him or them such bookseller or booksellers, printer or printers, and to examine and enquire of the reason of the dearness and inhauncement of the price or value of such book or books by him or them so sold or exposed to sale; and if upon such enquiry and examination it shall be found, that the price of such book or books is inhaunced, or any wise too high or unreasonable, then and in such case the said archbishop of Canterbury, lord chancellor or lord keeper, bishop of London, two chief justices, chief baron, vice chancellors of the universities, in that part of Great Britain called England, and the said lord president of the sessions, lord justice general, lord chief baron, and the rector of the college of Edinburgh, in that part of Great Britain called Scotland, or any one or more of them, so enquiring and examining, have hereby full power and authority to reform and redress the same, and to limit and settle the price of every such printed book and books, from time to time, according to the best of their judgments, and as to them shall seem just and reasonable; and in case of alteration of the rate or price from what was set or demanded by such bookseller or booksellers, printer or printers, to award and order such bookseller and booksellers, printer and printers, to pay all the costs and charges that the person or persons so complaining shall be put unto, by reason of such complaint, and of the causing such rate or price to be so limited and settled; all which shall be done by the said archbishop of Canterbury, lord chancellor or lord keeper, bishop of London, two chief justices, chief baron, vice chancellors of the two universities, in that part of Great Britain called England, and the said lord president of the sessions, lord justice general, lord chief baron, and rector of the college of Edinburgh, in that part of Great Britain called Scotland, or any one of them, by writing under their hands and seals, and thereof publick notice shall be forthwith given by the said bookseller or booksellers, printer or printers, by an advertisement in the Gazette; and if any bookseller or booksellers, printer or printers, shall, after such settlement made of the said rate and price, sell, or expose to sale, any book or books, at a higher or greater price, than what shall have been so limited and settled, as aforesaid, then, and in every such case such bookseller and booksellers, printer and printers, shall forfeit the sum of five pounds for every such book so by him, her, or them sold or exposed to sale; one moiety thereof to the Queen's most excellent majesty, her heirs and successors, and the other moiety to any person or persons that shall sue for the same, to be recovered, with costs of suit, in any of her Majesty's courts of record at Westminster, by action of debt, bill, plaint or information, in which no wager of law, |essoin, privilege, or protection, or more than one imparlance shall be allowed.
V. Provided always, and it is hereby enacted, That nine copies of each book or books, upon the best paper, that from and after the said tenth day of April, one thousand seven hundred and ten, shall be printed and published, as aforesaid, or reprinted and published with additions, shall, by the printer and printers thereof, be delivered to the warehouse keeper of the said company of stationers for the time being, at the hall of the said company, before such publication made, for the use of the royal library, the libraries of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, the libraries of the four universities in Scotland, the library of Sion College in London, and the library commonly called the library belonging to the faculty of advocates at Edinburgh respectively; which said warehouse keeper is hereby required within ten days after demand by the keepers of the respective libraries, or any person or persons by them or any of them authorized to demand the said copy, to deliver the same, for the use of the aforesaid libraries; and if any proprietor, bookseller, or printer, or the said warehouse keeper of the said company of stationers, shall not observe the direction of this act therein, that then he and they so making default in not delivering the said printed copies, as aforesaid, shall forfeit, besides the value of the said printed copies, the sum of five pounds for every copy not so delivered, as also the value of the said printed copy not so delivered, the same to be recovered by the Queen's majesty, her heirs and successors, and by the chancellor, masters, and scholars of any of the said universities, and by the president and fellows of Sion College, and the said faculty of advocates at Edinburgh, with their full costs respectively.
VI. Provided always, and be it further enacted, That if any person or persons incur the penalties contained in this act, in that part of Great Britain called Scotland, they shall be recoverable by any action before the court of session there.
VII. Provided, That nothing in this act contained, do extend, or shall be construed to extend to prohibit the importation, vending, or selling of any books in Greek, Latin, or any other foreign language printed beyond the seas; any thing in this act contained to the contrary notwithstanding.
VIII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any action or suit shall be commenced or brought against any person or persons whatsoever, for doing or causing to be done any thing in pursuance of this act, the defendants in such action may plead the general issue, and give the special matter in evidence; and if upon such action a verdict be given for the defendant, or the plaintiff become nonsuited, or discontinue his action, then the defendant shall have and recover his full costs, for which he shall have the same remedy as a defendant in any case by law hath.
IX. Provided, That nothing in this act contained shall extend, or be construed to extend, either to prejudice or confirm any right that the said universities, or any of them, or any person or persons have, or claim to have, to the printing or reprinting any book or copy already printed, or hereafter to be printed.
X. Provided nevertheless, That all actions, suits, bills, indictments or informations for any offence that shall be committed against this act, shall be brought, sued, and commenced within three months next after such offence committed, or else the same shall be void and of none effect.
XI. Provided always, That after the expiration of the said term of fourteen years, 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.
|This work is in the public domain worldwide because the work was created by a public body of the United Kingdom with Crown Status and commercially published prior to 1960.|