Victorian Copyright Act, Victoria , Melbourne (1869)

Source: Cambridge University Library

Victorian Copyright Act, Victoria , Melbourne (1869), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

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1869 Act to secure to Proprietors of Designs for Articles and Works of Manufacture and Art, and to Proprietors of Works of Literature and Fine Art, the Copyright of such Designs and Works for a limited period, 33 Vict. No. 350

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While the Fine Arts Copyright Act 1862 Act protected authors resident in any of the dominions of the Crown, it only applied throughout the territory of the UK, leaving protection in the colonies to colonial law. The Fine Arts Copyright Act 1862 became a model for legislation in a number of colonies, but there were also examples of regional variation. For instance, while the artistic copyright aspects of legislation passed by Victoria in 1869 (and in New South Wales in 1879) was closely modelled on the Fine Arts Copyright Act 1862 in many respects, it also contained a very different provision about gallery copying: it was lawful for all persons resident in that colony ‘to repeat imitate copy and otherwise multiply any painting, drawing, work of sculpture or photograph in or belonging to’ the national gallery and national library of that colony (see s.56 Victorian Act). This included copying for the purposes of sale and at least one art publisher – the Fine Arts Society, New Bond Street, complained to the Trustees of the National Gallery, Victoria, about this position (in relation to copying of Wedded by Lord Leighton and The Widower by Luke Fildes). By contrast, in the UK, while copying for private study was generally understood to be outside the remit of the Fine Arts Copyright Act 1862, the objective of prohibiting gallery copying for the purposes of sale was part of the context for the passage of the 1862 Act.

Commentary: No commentaries for this record.

  • Cooper, E., Art and Modern Copyright: The Contested Image (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018) p.p. 209-210.

  • Bond, C., ‘“Cabined Cribbed, Confined, Bound in”: Copyright in the Australian Colonies’ in I. Alexander and H. T. Gómez-Arostegui (eds.), Research Handbook on the History of Copyright Law (Cheltenham and Massachusetts: Edward Elgar, 2016) p.372

  • Bowrey, K., ‘“The World Daguerrotyped: What a Spectacle!”, Copyright Law, Photography and the Economic Mission of Empire’ in B. Sherman and L. Wisemann (eds) Copyright and the Challenge of the New (AH Alpen aan den Rijn: Wolters Kluwer 2012) p.11

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Location: Melbourne

Language: English

Source: Cambridge University Library

Persons referred to:

Places referred to:

Cases referred to:

Institutions referred to:
Legislative Assembly of Victoria
Legislative Council of Victoria
Museum of Industry and Art, Victoria
National Gallery, Victoria
Public Library of Melbourne


Artistic works
Colonial copyright
Dramatic Works
Literary works
Museum of Industry and Art, Victoria
Musical Works
National Gallery, Victoria
Public Library of Melbourne

Responsible editor: Elena Cooper

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