HC Deb 09 April 1818 vol 37 cc1225-8

Mr. Wynn

presented a Petition from the Booksellers and Publishers of London and Westminster; setting forth, "That by an act passed in the 54th of his majesty, to amend the several acts for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies and copyright of printed books to the authors of such books or their assigns, it was enacted, amongst other things, that 11 copies of the whole of every book and of every volume thereof upon the paper upon which the largest number or impression of such book should be printed for sale, together with all maps and prints belonging thereto, which from and after the passing of the said act should be printed and published, on demand thereof being made in writing to, or left at the place of abode of the publisher or publishers thereof, at any time within twelve months next after the publication thereof, under the hand of the warehouse keeper of the Company of Stationers, or the librarian, or other person thereto authorized by the persons or body politic and corporate, proprietors or managers of the libraries following, viz. the British Museum, Sion College, the Bodleian Library at Oxford, the public library at Cambridge, the library of the Faculty of Advocates at Edinburgh, the libraries of the four Universities of Scotland, Trinity College Library, and the King's Inns Library at Dublin, or so much of such eleven copies as should be respectively demanded on behalf of such libraries respectively, should be delivered by the publisher or publishers thereof respectively, within one month after demand made thereof in writing, as aforesaid, to the warehouse keeper of the said Company of Stationers for the time being; that the petitioners hoped and expected that the librarians, or other persons authorized by the proprietors or managers of the said eleven libraries, would have demanded the copies of such books only as would be of real and lasting utility in such libraries, and that a selection would have been made from the general mass of publications for that purpose; but the petitioners respectfully state, that every book published and entered at Stationers-hall has been demanded for the said libraries, without any discrimination or selection, excepting that for two of them, namely, the Advocates' library in Edinburgh and Trinity College in Dublin, no music or novels are claimed, but for all the others both music and novels have been demanded; that, in the bill brought into the House on which the said act was framed, the said delivery of books was limited to those which should be first published after the passing of the said act, but, in the ultimate wording of the said act, as it now stands, the petitioners have become liable to a delivery of all reprints of books published before the passing of the said act, although the same may not contain any addition or alteration, and although a former edition of such books may be already in the possession of these libraries; and, from the system of indiscriminate demand adopted by the said libraries, all such re-prints are so demanded, which operates to discourage the re-printing of former publications; the petitioners respectfully submit, that it cannot answer any object of instruction or improvement, that every book which shall be published., whatever may be its subject, its tendency, or its merits, should be demanded for the use of the said libraries, as, from this indiscriminate demand, a great number of books are taken from the petitioners which can only become waste, and they are thereby heavily burthened without any adequate advantage to the said libraries, while no instance has occurred in which any books demanded and delivered have been returned to the petitioners when they were found not to be necessary or useful to such libraries; and they humbly beg permission to infer, that it could not be the intention of the legislature that they should be burthened by the delivery of books which are not only not useful, but which are actually detrimental, or an incumbrance to the libraries themselves; the petitioners do not wish to deprive the said libraries of the beneficial enjoyment of their right under the said act, so far as the real objects of their respective institutions are thereby promoted, and so far as such right could be exercised with such modifications as will preserve the petitioners from unnecessary grievance; but the petitioners feel, that nine-tenths of the publications daily issuing from the press, are neither necessary nor advantageous to all those libraries, and yet the delivery heavily burthens the petitioners, and that they are all aggrieved thereby, but on some, from the expense and risk of their publications, it falls with peculiar severity; the grievance under which the petitioners labour, and from which they humbly pray the House to afford them some relief, is not, as has been asserted, of a trifling nature; if it were so, they would not complain; but daily experience makes them feel more heavily the burthen, and convinces them that its effects will be seriously injurious to literature in general; they therefore respectfully hope for some legislative regulation, which may induce the managers of these libraries to make a selection of the books which they may demand, so that the petitioners may have to deliver those only which are likely to be of real and permanent utility; and they humbly conceive, that to require the libraries to pay some part of the price of each book they may demand, will induce them to make such a selection as will be most beneficial to themselves, and will lessen the burthen to the petitioners; that they forbear to state in detail the heavy grievances which these demands and deliveries have occasioned to them individually, because they hope that some regulation, to the effect above-mentioned, will produce a material relief, and because they are informed that a bill is now before the House with this object in view; they therefore most humbly pray, that the House will, in its wisdom, be pleased to grant them some relief, as to the demand and delivery of the eleven copies of books for the libraries above mentioned, by enacting, in the bill now before the House, some regulations which will make it expedient that these libraries should only demand such books as it will be proper and useful that they should possess, either by requiring some part of the selling price thereof to be paid at the time of demand, or by such other provisions as to the House shall seem meet."

Petitions in favour of the bill were also presented from Mr. Valpy, and from certain artists and engravers. They were ordered to lie on the table, and to be printed.