« НазадПродовжити »
tainly be found the exception and not the rule; in the second place, the trial of the conflicting claims of inventors, frequently involving scientific questions more recondite and complicated still, is left to the decision of a learned judge, and of twelve jurymen brought together without selection; and in the third place, fitly to crown the whole, the court of last resort for such claims in general, whether to alter a specification or prolong a term, is the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
I deal not here with the question of remedy, to that we come presently, but content myself with remarking that these are but a few of the evils and deficiencies of our present patent laws, which remain to this day, although nearly ten years have passed since a Committee of the House of Commons stated to the House that, on account of the intricacy and importance of the subject, and the then late period of the session, * they were “only prepared to report the Minutes of the Evidence taken before them,” and “earnestly recommend to the House that the enquiry may be resumed early in the next session.” The enquiry, however, was not resumed, and no report has ever been made upon the important evidence.
Years have passed on; the Quarterly Review has Quart. Rev. joined in denouncing “the unjust and oppressive vol. xliii. tribute which the patent law exacts from inventors;” numerous petitions and remonstrances have been presented from chambers of commerce, from inventors, from manufacturers; not less than six several bills have been introduced into parliament; and of these only one See Ap. -the least comprehensive of all-has been passed into a pendix | law, and that with the loss of some of its best provisions. And the law is still disfigured by its old features
• It was the 12th of June. Things have changed in this respect, as in many others, since that period.
excessive costliness, complicated and useless obstructive forms, heavy stamp duties, triple proceedings and triple fees for one United Kingdom, great difficulty of safe transfer, very considerable legal insecurity (although this has been greatly reduced—thanks to Lord Brougham's · Act), and radically INCOMPETENT TRIBUNALS.
In passing to the suggestion of Remedy for the various evils which have been detailed, and following the same order, I observe, with respect to the copyright of Books, that although the chief interest of the Plastic Arts in this branch of the subject is indirect, as arising out of their literature, yet the Painter and the Engraver have another interest which is direct, and which daily increases in importance. I mean that arising out of illustrated books. As there is no means more widely efficacious than this for diffusing a knowledge and love of Art, so is there none to which a cheap, secure, and sufficient copyright is of more vital importance.
But the subject of the copyright of books is already in such able and zealous hands, that I cannot do better
than recite the provisions of the Bill again introduced fourd's Bill. by Mr. Serjeant Talfourd, and supported by Sir Robert
Inglis, and by many other distinguished men of all parties, during the last session, and read a second time by a considerable majority, although subsequently withdrawn by the learned serjeant (under pledge to renew it at the commencement of next session), for the sake of a careful revision of its details.
By this Bill it is proposed to enact that copyright in any book hereafter to be published shall endure to the author and his assigns for his life, and for the further term of sixty years, commencing at his death; that copyright, which at the passing of the Act shall be subsisting either in the author, in his personal representatives, or in his assigns, for consideration of natural
affection, shall continue in the parties so entitled for the same terms; that copyright, subsisting partly in the author or his personal representatives, and partly in his assigns (by sale), shall a.so continue for the same terms, and belong to the author and the assignee, in the same proportions as the copyright actually subsisting; and that copyright which has been absolutely assigned shall endure (as it would do under the present law) for the term of twenty-eight years and of the author's life, if he survive that term, and no longer.*
These are the leading provisions of the Bill which will soon be again before Parliament. Some remarks on its minor details, and on the objections which have been made to it in general, I have thrown into a note, which will be found in the Appendix. In this place I merely Appenobserve, that the chief objections to the Bill are strangely contradictory. Mr. Hume (whom I hope to see on the other side of the question, when he shall have had leisure to consider the measure in all its bearings,) objects to it only as tending to raise the price of books to the Debate public. A large body of booksellers and publishers Sess. 1838.
See Mirror object to it, as tending at once to injure them, and as of Parliaconferring "no possible benefit on the author.” of And, ment:
Petition. as if to sum up the whole, Mr. Mudie objects to it at The Con once, as tending to injure one class of authors--those right Ques
tion, p. 47, who compile or abridge, by prolonging the duration and enhancing the price of the books of another class—those who publish works of original thought; and also as tending to benefit booksellers at the expense of the public, because (and here I apprehend an important light is really let in upon the question) now they illegally combine “to support each other in their several monopolies, Ib. p. 16.
* This was an alteration made in the Committee.
+ See their Petition, and also the paper entitled Objections to a Bill, &c. circulated amongst the members last session,
especially those in which they have joint interests, so as to keep up the monopoly against the public long after the legal expiry of the copyright;” and that, after the pass
ing of the Bill, they would be enabled to do this by law. Mudie, But, notwithstanding, he too elsewhere contends that p. 46.
the Bill would not raise the price of copyright.
Now, whatever be the value of some of these objections, they cannot all be sound, for they necessarily destroy one another. Either there will be an increase in the prices of books, or there will not: if there be, the increase must pass either into the pocket of the author, or into the pocket of the publisher; in either case the public, not the publishers, have to complain. And the public can have no cause of complaint if it be true that an author's manuscript is his absolute property, it being the interest of the public to maintain the rights of property intact; and if this be untrue, still there will be no cause of complaint on the part of the public, unless it be also untrue that the public would gain more by a possible increase of the rewards of original authorship than they would lose by the additional tax on the price of books.*
For it is to be remarked, that the opponents of the proposed measure, however they may shift about their other assumptions, invariably keep to these two :—first,
that the matter in hand is not the (partial) protection of Objections, a right of property, but is a bargain made by the State &c. p. 1. Mudie,
to induce authors to write books pro bono publico; and, passim. secondly, that authors are people invariably possessed
of two peculiarities (amongst others)—the one, that they write always for fame and never for profit (and therefore ought not to have any); the other, that they are so
* If we take the remaining dilemma, and say that, by a mistake in the Bill, this additional tax will go into the publishers' pockets instead of the author's, then let the Bill be amended.
anxious for profit, that as soon as they have the power, they will put such high prices upon their books as greatly to confine the circulation of them.
Such are some of the objections to Mr. Talfourd's bill, for partially protecting the copyright of books. I pass on to the subject of.printS.
And with respect to prints, the present question is 2. Prints. not so much one of period,-(although, without doubt, this ought not to be less than for books,) as of real and therefore cheap protection. The evidence of Mr. Cheap triMartin, before quoted, is very significant on this point. An expensive process, whether in law or equity, is no remedy at all. It is in evidence that all the “ satisfaction" obtained by this means in very flagrant cases of Ante, p.51. piracy, is “heavy law expenses.” Ought this to continue ?
The first bill introduced by Mr.Sergeant Talfourd on the subject of copyright, contained the following provisions for prints,* which it was deemed expedient (mainly, I believe, by the advice of Sir Robert Peel,) to omit in the second bill, for the sake of simplifying the discussion, and of giving opportunity for a comprehensive investigation of the subject of copyright in works of art generally, but as yet nothing has been done. :
By that bill it was proposed to continue all subsisting Provisions copyright in engraved prints, for the same term as at as to prints
in Mr. Talpresent, but giving the proprietor of such copyright the fourd's first same remedies for infringement during such term as were bill,
• It may be observed, that the act which has just been passed to enable the Queen in council to extend copyright to the works of foreign authors published abroad, on condition of a reciprocal extension in the respective countries of such authors, in favour of English books, (although it includes “ maps, cbarts, or plans,”') does not include prints. Yet it is highly desirable that there should be an international copyright in this respect also, See Mr. Martin's evidence, already quoted.