International Copyright Act, London (1838)

Source: Durham University Library

International Copyright Act, London (1838), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

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Record-ID: uk_1838

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Full title:
International Copyright Act, 1838, 1 & 2 Vict. c.59

Full title original language:

Legislation providing that the British monarch could, by Order in Council, grant copyright protection, within Britain and its Dominions, to the authors of literary works first published abroad for a period specified within the Order but not exceeding the domestic copyright term. The Act provided the first occasion on which the British legislature offered the possibility of copyright protection for the work of foreign authors. Its timing is indicative of the widespread attention which the issue of international copyright had begun to attract in Britain, on the continent, and in the United States. The commentary describes the background to the legislation in relation to British attitudes to the importation of foreign works throughout the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and in the context of early nineteenth century debates before the courts as to whether the work of foreign authors was in any event protected under existing legislative measures (see also: uk_1854). The commentary also explores the reasons for the failure of the British government to successfully negotiate any bilateral agreements under the legislation, but nevertheless suggests that the 1838 Act provided an important platform upon which to build a subsequent and more successful regime of international copyright protection (see also: uk_1844; uk_1852; uk_1886).

1 Commentary:

  • Sherman, B., and Bently, L., The Making of Modern Intellectual Property Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999)

  • Clark, A.J., The Movement for International Copyright in Nineteenth Century America (Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1960)

  • Barnes, J.J., Authors, Publishers and Politicians: The Quest for an Anglo-American Copyright Agreement 1815-1854 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974)

Related documents in this database:
1846: Bilateral Treaty between Prussia and Britain
1838: Parliamentary Debates on the International Copyright Act (20 March)
1838: Parliamentary Debates on the International Copyright Act (19 July)
1837: Senate Report
1838: Address of Certain Authors
1838: Report, from the Committee on Patents
1838: Memorial of the New York Typographical Society

Author: N/A

Publisher: N/A

Year: 1838

Location: London

Language: English

Source: Durham University Library

Persons referred to:

Places referred to:
Great Britain

Cases referred to:

Institutions referred to:
British Museum
Court of Chancery, England
Stationers' Company
Stationers' Hall

International Copyright Act, 1838, 1 & 2 Vict., c.59

Stationers' Company
foreign reprints
international agreements, bilateral
maps, protected subject matter
music, protected subject matter
new editions

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