THE Statute of Anne – 1710

 

   Upon Parliament’s refusal to renew the Licensing Act in 1695, the Stationers’ Company made several petitions and lobbied for legislation for various forms of exclusive rights to print.  Each was denied or ignored. 

 

In January 1710, a bill was presented to the House of Commons, and after consideration and revisions, in April 1710, it became effective as the Statute of Anne, “An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by Vesting the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or Purchasers of such Copies, during the Times therein mentioned.”  It states, in part:

 

... [T]he Author of any Book or Books already Printed, who hath not Transferred to any other the Copy or Copies of such Book or Books, Share or Shares thereof, or the Bookseller or Booksellers, Printer or Printers, or other Person or Persons, who hath or have Purchased or Acquired the Copy or Copies of any Book or Books, in order to Print or Reprint the same, shall have the sole Right and Liberty of Printing such Book and Books for the Term of One and twenty Years,... and no longer; and that the Author of any Book or Books already Composed and not Printed and Published, or that shall hereafter be Composed, and his Assignee or Assigns, shall have the sole Liberty of Printing and Reprinting such Book and Books for the Term of Fourteen Years, to Commence from the Day of the First Publishing the same, and no longer;...

  [1]

 

As the first modern copyright law, the Statute of Anne recognized copyright as an author's right, a major and important change in philosophy and in law.  The Statute of Anne required the authors or owners of the rights to register their works in the Stationers’ Company register book as a condition of protection.  Under this statute, if the author were living at the end of the initial fourteen year term, the author would receive another term of exclusive copyright protection for another fourteen year term. 



[1] Statute of Anne, 1710, 8 Ann., c. 19 (Eng.), named after the then Queen of Anne who supported the creative arts.



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