« НазадПродовжити »
indisputable right of property, if such a right exist at all.
13. It was then shown that, as regards the productions of the literary author, the sculptor, the engraver, and the composer, there is nothing in their nature which should limit the term of the secure enjoyment of them, or in any way preclude their full participation in all the rights accorded by law to property in general; but that as regards mechanical and chemical inventions, there is that in their nature which renders it necessary to limit the term of property in them, for the purpose of securing fair and equal protection to all inventors of every grade.
14. The statutable limitation of copyright in books to twenty-eight years, with contingent reversion for the remainder of the author's life has not, it was perceived, been compensated either by cheapness of process, whether for proof or transfer, or by adequacy of remedy; the penal clauses being wholly worthless. Engraved prints have the same term as books, but without any contingent reversion. Such works of sculpture as can be brought within the vague and unsatisfactory definition of the 54th Geo. III. c. 56, have a term of fourteen years only, with reversion of a second similar term, contingent on the author's survival. And designs or patterns for printed “linens, cottons, calicoes and muslins,” are protected for the term of three months. But in all these cases a good system of registration is wanting; the legal processes are complex and expensive; and the remedies absolutely null.
15. In respect, however, of designs for application to manufactures, the law has been somewhat altered for the better, by the enactment of two bills which were under discussion in Parliament when the preceding pages on copyright were passing through the press. By the first of these bills the term of three months, already accorded to patterns for “printed linens, cottons, calicoes, and muslins,” (most of which are now obsolete,) was extended to “silks and woollens," before totally unprotected ; and by the second, a term of twelve months was afforded to all tissue or textile fabrics, other than those included within the first bill, and a term of three years to any new design “for the modelling, or the casting, embossment, chasing, engraving, or any other kind of impression or ornament on any article of manufacture," not being a tissue or textile . fabric. The last-named term of protection was made contingent on registration. These are important improvements, but still the greatest defect is altogether overlooked; the want, namely, of cheap and summary process on infringement, and of competent tribunals to adjudicate. The term, too, of protection afforded to the first-named class of textile fabrics is insufficient, and might with great advantage be increased from three months to nine months, or even to twelve.
16. The subject of literary copyright has been again before parliament, in the shape of the excellent bill introduced by Mr. Sergeant Talfourd, to extend the term to a period of sixty years, commencing at the author's death.* So completely have the arguments of the opponents of this measure been refuted, that it is impossible to entertain a doubt that it must eventually pass into a law. But the whole subject of copyright in prints, and in works of sculpture, has yet to be approached by the legislature. In considering it, it will be found that the term is less important than simplicity of process, and adequacy of tribunal,—the indispensable features of any satisfactory measure. Much important information on this head is to be derived from the copyright tribunals in France.
17. Advancing to the consideration of the present
* See Appendix, A.
state of the law respecting patents for inventions (which affect the arts of design more nearly than might at the first glance appear), it was found that here too the desiderata partake of the same character. Simplicity of the forms of procedure, reduction of the stamp duties and fees, abolition of separate patents for different portions of the United Kingdom, provisions for cheap and safe transfer, competent tribunals-must be the characteristics of any adequate reform of the patent laws. The bill introduced by Mr. Mackinnon into the House of Commons-which, however, has made no progress-although in many respects an improvement upon the existing law, leaves most of these important points altogether unprovided for.
18. It was further contended that any surplus sum Rewards of which might be derived from fees upon letters patent ought to be applied - not to the consolidated fund, as proposed by Mr. Mackinnon, but-to the reward of those inventors and public benefactors who may fail of being otherwise remunerated, even when the State shall have accorded them that fair and equal protection of their property which it is bound to refuse to none. Unfortunately, the most narrow views on this subject appear still to prevail in quarters where more statesman-like opinions might have been reasonably looked for;
19. In the recent and important case of Messrs. Fourdrinier, whose improvements in the manufacture of paper are computed to have saved twenty thousand pounds a year in the consumption of that article for public purposes alone, but who were ruined by the large outlay and the vexatious litigations which they were compelled to incur in the prosecution of them, a select Committee of the House of Commons, obtained after protracted efforts, to enquire into their claims for some public remuneration, having made that enquiry, resolved unanimously to recommend a grant of twenty thousand pounds. The government, however, interposed delay,
and, at length,* proposed a vote of seven thousand pounds only. Men on all sides of the House remonstrated against this step as a great injustice, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer refused to yield, and thus expressed himself:
“I must confess that I had considerable difficulty in introducing a vote at all, because I think it very objectionable in principle, that parties should apply to the public for a reward for their inventions." To the honour of the House of Commons this doctrine appeared to meet with very little support.
20. I repeat, then, that amendment of copyright and patent law, to be effectual, must include the provision of a national fund, as well for rewarding those whom mere protection may yet leave unrewarded, as for acquiring, to the public use, such valuable inventions as the owners may be willing at once to surrender.
Fiscal ob- 21. Next to the duty of protecting the artist in the structions.
secure enjoyment of the fruits of his labour, may be Excise ranked that of removing all needless fiscal obstructions duties on bricks,
to his progress. Such, it was shown, exist at present glass, and in the excise duties on bricks, on paper, and on glass.
22. The excise duties on bricks obstruct the proportion and beauty of our buildings, and if they cannot be altogether removed, they might at least be equalized. Those on paper discourage art by enhancing the cost of books and prints, of cards for the Jacquard loom, and of stained papers of all kinds. Those on glass tend greatly to obstruct the arts of glass-painting, of engraving, and of decorative architecture—in several of its most important branches.
23. A reduction of the rates of postage, it was shown, would also contribute greatly to diffuse the love of art,
On the 8th of May, 1840.
as indeed to promote educational improvement of every kind, throughout the population. This measure has now been happily accomplished, and the results are already such as to justify the most sanguine anticipations of its advocates. It is gratifying too to perceive that, although it would be premature to assert anything decisively as to its immediate financial consequences, there is abundant reason to believe that these will be far less unsatisfactory than was expected.
24. So far, the claims which have been advanced in favour of the arts, to certain remedial measures of legislation, rest mainly upon the simple grounds of protection to property, and freedom of industry. We now proceed to claims upon the assistance of government which rest on a different basis, that is to say, on the duty incumbent upon the State to promote the universal education of the people by all means within its power.
25. The duty, however, of establishing schools of design Schools of for the training of industrial artists, is one which rests, industrial not on the latter basis alone, but both on that and on the former combined. The prosperity of the manufactures of our country depends on an improved taste in design characterizing our productions, and enabling them to compete in the markets with those of our neighbours. To such an improved taste the special instruction of industrial artists is indispensable. And the want of adequate protection heretofore for the work of such artists, when produced, has naturally had the effect of making the manufacturers themselves both less willing and less able to provide such instruction at their own cost.
26. And again, the lamentable deficiency of such general knowledge of the elementary principles of design as would form an essential part of a good and universal popular education, has greatly increased the