Home  »  Volume XI: English THE PERIOD OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION  »  § 5. The first Copyright Act

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XI. The Period of the French Revolution.

XIV. Book Production and Distribution, 1625–1800

§ 5. The first Copyright Act

In this measure, the right of an author to property in his work was, for the first time, recognised, or, rather, conferred upon him, by the statute law of the country. The act provided that, in the case of old books, the owners, whether authors or booksellers, should have the exclusive right of printing them for a term of twenty-one years from 10 April, 1710, and no longer. In the case of new books, authors were given the monopoly of printing them for fourteen years, and, if the author were still living, a further period of fourteen years from the end of that time. These privileges were to depend upon entry of the work, before publication, in the Stationers’ register; and the interests of the public were considered in a clause which provided that, if anyone thought the published price of a book unreasonably high, the archbishop of Canterbury, or other authority, might, on appeal, fix a fair price.