Literary Copyright Reform in Early Victorian England: The Framing of the 1842 Copyright Act

By Catherine Seville | Go to book overview
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9
CONCLUSION

Although Archibald Alison considered it 'a disgrace to British legislation', legal commentators throughout the nineteenth century responded warmly and positively to the 1842 Copyright Act. Godson's Practical treatise had devoted considerable space to the exposition of Talfourd's proposals, as yet unpassed.1 The 1844 supplement to this declared the law respecting copyright in books to be 'much improved' since the last edition, 'by acts of Parliament, for which the public owe great thanks, as to copyright, to Mr Serjeant Talfourd'.2 Burke, who provided a further supplement to Godson's textbook in 1851, was still entirely supportive of Talfourd, to whom the public owed 'the happy amelioration of our Copyright law'.3 Another near-contemporary, Blaine, writing in 1853, described how the Statute of Anne 'cut down' the perpetual right in literary works to a short fourteen-year term, and noted that 'since that time instalments of justice have with the greatest difficulty been wrung from the Legislature'.4 A footnote attributed the 1842 Act to 'the generous and unwearied exertions of one of the most distinguished authors of modern times, Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd'.

In the 1870 first edition of Copinger, now a standard work, it was emphasised that the contemporary law of literary copyright depended on the 1842 Act. Again Talfourd's contribution is recognised: 'To Mr Serjeant Talfourd is due the honour of

____________________
1
Richard Godson, A practical treatise on the law of patents for inventions and of copyright, 2nd edn (1840), pp. 305–6, 316–18.
2
A supplement to the second edition of A Practical Treatise(1844), pp. vii-viii.
3
Peter Burke, Supplement to Godson's practical treatise on the law of patents (1851).
4
Delabere Roberton Blaine, On the laws of artistic copyright and their defects (1853), p.11.

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