HC Deb 03 March 1841 vol 56 cc1274-96
Mr. Emerson Tennent

rose to move the second reading of the Copyright of Designs Bill. Having reason to believe that the opinion of the Government was in favour of some measure being passed, having for its object the extension of the present term of copyright for designs, he should do no more than move that the bill which he had had the honour to introduce be now read a second time.

Mr. Williams

had been a member on the committee to inquire into the subject of copyright in designs, and had paid the greatest possible attention to the proceedings of that committee. The present law affecting that subject had been in existence for a period exceeding fifty years. There was no branch of manufacture in this country that had been more prosperous, or that had advanced more rapidly than the cotton manufacture; nor was there perhaps a single branch of manufacture which afforded greater profits or advantages to the capitalist. There was not one branch of our manufactures in which larger fortunes were made, or in which greater success attended the application of capital. He thought that before so great a change was proposed, it should be shown that it had now declined in prosperity. When the manufacture was in its infancy, there was a protection of two months extended to the copyright. An application was made for an extension of the term, and the Parliament extended the period to three months. As a proof of the extraordinary progress which had been made by this branch of our manufactures, he would state that the products in 1800 amounted to 32,800,000 yards; in 1814, to 124,600,000 yards; and in 1830, to 347,400,000 yards. Up to the last mentioned period the exact quantity produced could be ascertained by the duty, which was then levied upon the calicoes. The trade still progressed as rapidly as at any former period. The smallest estimate gave 420,000,000 yards or 3,000,000 of pieces as the present production of the trade. As so large an amount of capital was invested in this trade, the evidence which had been given before the commit- tee by gentlemen who were deeply interested in the matter ought to be carefully weighed before the House ventured upon the change proposed by the hon. Member for Belfast. As he had stated on a former occasion the cotton trade having been the means of increasing the wealth of the persons belonging to it, many of them had at all times been Members of that House, and had been looked up to as authorities on the commercial affairs of the country. They were persons who were much more likely to understand the real interests of the trade than the hon. Member for Belfast, or any other person totally unconnected with trade of any kind. If those individuals had thought that this branch of manufacture would have been benefitted by the extension of the copyright, and had stated their opinions, Parliament would in all probability have adopted their suggestion. But no such proposition had been made during a period of fifty years, with the exception of some twenty years ago, when a bill passed the House of Commons, without inquiry, and was sent up to the House of Lords. There a committee was appointed, and the result was that the Lords took no proceedings whatever on the bill. When it was considered that the object for effecting this great and important change was, that a few individuals, and a very few, might be enabled to sell very small and circumscribed productions at a higher price, and thereby get a larger profit, he thought the House would hesitate before it effected so great a change. What was the properly in respect of which an extension of the copyright was sought? It had been admitted by all the witnesses, both for and against the measure, that the patterns now produced were taken from old patterns, and so great was the quantity of patterns produced that it had been estimated the number produced in Manchester alone amounted to 520,000 a year. It had been computed that 30,000,000 of patterns had been produced, which embraced almost every object, device and form which the imagination of man or the objects of natural production could suggest. It had been proved, almost without exception, by every witness, that the only resource for forming new and original patterns was the old patterns. The late boroughreeve of Manchester, who had been thirty years in the trade, and pro- duced 3,000 patterns every year, had stated to the committee that during his experience of thirty years he had not seen two patterns which he could call original patterns. It was stated by several witnesses that they did not know what an original pattern was, or what a copy was, so intimately interwoven were the new patterns with the ideas taken from patterns formerly in existence. If the change that was now sought to be made were effected, it would inflict a most severe blow upon an important branch of the trade of this country, and would give a great encouragement to persons engaged in the same trade in foreign countries. When so many branches of our manufactures were at the present moment in a state of great suffering, and this being a branch that was peculiarly exempt from that suffering, it ought to be the very last upon which so great and extensive an experiment should be made. What pretence was there for making so great a change as now proposed in a law that had existed for fifty years, upon a matter which, in reality, was everybody's property, and which in point of value was a mere nothing. Most of the witnesses for and against the bill stated the cost of the patterns, which it appeared averaged from 5s. to 8s., and their expense was only ¼ d. to ¾ d. per piece. One gentleman, a very small producer, who was principally employed in copying French patterns, stated that he paid 25s., and that was the highest sum known to have been paid. Now, for things of so little value in themselves, and which were not original conceptions, he contended it was quite unnecessary to introduce so great a change. One of the first consequences of the bill would be, that it would produce endless litigation. Under the law, as it now stood, there were means of redress for persons suffering from infringements of their copyright, either by an action at law to recover damages, or by proceedings in a court of equity. During fifty years only one action at law had been commenced, and there had been only one proceeding in the court of equity. He would presently state what was the result of the latter proceeding. But the impossibility, as it had been stated by most of the witnesses, of ascertaining what a copy was, or to whom the patterns called original belonged, would throw so many difficulties in the way of proceeding in the trade, and would occasion so much litigation, as to create the most detrimental consequences to the general character of the trade. One gentleman who was brought before the committee as one of the principal witnesses in favour of the bill, having some patterns shown to him, was asked, Should you say that one of these is a copy of the other?" (His answer was), "I should say that, under certain circumstances, it was, and under other circumstances it was not. Now, he should like to know, if such a statement, as this could be made by a practical man, how it was possible for an ordinary man to tell a copy from an original. Having other patterns shown to him, the witness was asked, Should you say that one of these is a copy of the other?" (His answer was), "They are both taken from the same designs: but I think it hardly a fair question to require me to give an opinion upon, because I know, if the two were put together, one person may give an opinion one way, and another person another way. Another gentleman, Mr. Lee, a magistrate of Manchester, who produced annually 700,000 pieces, measuring upwards of 11,000 miles, stated that he did not know what a copy was; that the trade did not know it, and waited to be informed on that point. Another gentleman, Mr. Kershaw, whose productions amounted to one million of pieces a year, and who is a gentleman of high respectability, and a magistrate of Manchester, expressed an opinion precisely in accordance with the opinion of Mr. Lee. Mr. Ross, a practical designer, and one of the best description of calico-printers, expressed a similar opinion, and he further stated that there was very little real originality existing in patterns. Now, although there was a law that gave three months' protection to those patterns, yet the producers of designs had never availed themselves of that protection, and they had stated in their evidence that they believed the majority of those persons engaged in the calico printing trade had never protected their patterns. And why? They stated distinctly that they considered a moderate profit to be the best protection they could have. It was also the opinion of those gentlemen that those who sought increased protection could have no other object in view but an increase of profit, and the sale of their productions to the public at a higher price than they could now obtain for them. It was a most remarkable circumstance, that the gentlemen who were opposed to this measure—two of them at least state, that they never copied any man's pattern in their lives; and another stated, that he had never copied any pattern before the term of the copyright had expired, and even then, not one in a hundred. And yet many of those gentlemen who were in favour of the extension of the copyright were copyists of French patterns. What did the gentlemen whose evidence he had referred to say, as to the extent of copying which now existed? The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had presented a petition from the Chamber of Commerce in Glasgow. A gentleman was examined before the Committee of the House of Commons, who he believed was one of the largest calico-printers in Glasgow, and a highly respectable man (Mr. Galbreaith). He produced 200,000 pieces a year from his own patterns, and in answer to a question, he said, I do not know that I ever knew any of my patterns copied. I have seen none, but have heard of one or two. Now, this was pretty strong evidence that Scotland, at any rate, was almost entirely exempt from that system of copying which it was the object of the bill to put a stop to. Another gentleman, who was one of the principal witnesses in favour of the measure (Mr. Lockett) stated, that there was in general no advantage in copying prints. He said that he engraved fifty patterns a week, and that he could only mention one instance of those patterns having been copied. That gentleman also made the following remarkable statement in his evidence; he said that Novelty was the grand attraction, that it would at all times command a preference of sale, though not always of price. While the House had such evidence as this before them, to disprove the existence of any extensive system of copying such as could be injurious to the trade—coming, too, from parties who were favourable to an extended copyright, he hoped they would pause before they sanctioned the bill. It was the opinion of those gentlemen who were unfavourable to the passing of the measure, that if it were to be enforced there would be no end to litigation. Mr. Koe, an eminent Chancery barrister, was one of the parties examined. He stated that on the single occasion in which proceedings in Chancery were instituted, to obtain redress for the copying of a pattern, Lord Chancellor Lyndhurst said, when the copy and original pattern were shown to him, that he could see no difference between them, and that he must send it to a jury to decide which was the original. Mr. Koe also stated that the proceedings in Chancery in such a case were these:—a bill was filed and the answer put in, and in about two years after the cause would be heard. On being asked, Why do you say two years?" (he answered), "Because it was about two years, according to the present state of proceedings in Chancery, after a cause was set down to be heard before it could be brought on for a hearing; then upon the hearing of the cause, reference was made to the master to take an account. That might be much contested in the master's office, or it might be twelve or eighteen months before the account could be taken. When the account had been taken, then the cause was to be set down to be heard again, and it might be a year or a year and a half, before it could be heard a second time. All this was independent of any proceedings that might be taken in case the parties should be dissatisfied with the manner in which the account in the master's office had been taken; for if exceptions were taken, that would delay the ultimate period in which the party claiming the pattern could obtain redress. Another question was asked Mr. Koe:— Do you think it is a just state of the law, that parties cannot resort to law on account of the extreme difficulties which lie in the way of obtaining justice? (The answer was), "I think it is most unjust, and a great reproach to the Legislature." (He was asked), "Do you think it an expedient course for this committee to recommend that causes should be restricted to local courts in cases arising out of the law of copyright respecting printing calicoes?" (He replied), "I think, with great deference to the committee, that it is their duty when conferring a right on parties to ascertain whether the tribunal existing was adapted to protect that right. The same witness also stated, that in his opinion, the courts of law and equity were not so constituted as to give an adequate remedy in suits where the matter in dispute was of small amount. He would just read to the House one more document. It was a letter from the attorney engaged in the only Chancery suit that had been instituted respecting copyright in designs. The hon. Member read the following letter:— Manchester, 21st March, 1840. Dear Sir—In respect to your inquiry as to the case in Chancery, of 'Sheriff v. Coates and Glendinning,' I beg to refer you to the report of that case in 1 Russell and Mylne, 159, when it was heard before the Lord Chancellor Lyndhurst, and as the solicitor for the defendants, I attended the argument, I think, only the first day, when it was adjourned for three days, and I was obliged to return home. It had previously been heard before the Vice-Chancellor, who continued the injunction, and the Lord Chancellor directed an issue. My clients were wearied out by these heavy proceedings, and paid a sum of money to put an end to litigation on so worthless a subject, though I had a very strong opinion, that I could establish by clear evidence, that the pattern was not an original invention. I think there were five separate bills for injunctions for the alleged piracy of as many patterns of very worthless and fugitive designs, as Sir Charles Wetherell very truly described them to be. The Lord Chancellor called them very ugly, and I think my witnesses stated, that they were not worth 20s. each. The bottled fly, I think it was called, was stated to be something like fifty years old, but trimmed up a little and called a new pattern, though as old as any in the trade. You know very well what Chancery proceedings are; the machinery of that honourable Court is too cumbersome for the discussion of fugitive patterns, value 20s. or anything like it. My clients' expenses were near 900l. in this affair, and I think the other side must have expended nearly as much. The hearing before Lord Lyndhurst was in January, 1830. I remain, dear Sir, yours truly, GEORGE HATFIELD. To Thomas Wheeler, Esq., solicitor, Manchester. He thought, that as the penalties for infringing copyrights under the bill proposed by the hon. Member for Belfast, were intended to be as stringent as those imposed by the present law, the House would perceive, that to take any measure, that would lead to increased litigation, under the circumstances such as Mr. Koe and this respectable solicitor had described, would be most injurious to the trade. It was important, also, that the House should bear in mind, that almost without exception, the witnesses examined before the committee, whether favourable or adverse to the bill, admitted, that the practice of copying original patterns had greatly diminished, and was still diminishing, although many of them denied, that there was any real property in the pattern so copied. Only one witness examined before the committee stated there was any great grievance in this case, and that was a gentleman of the name of Stirling, who was the manager of the cotton printing concern of the firm of Henry and Co., of Dublin. He complained of their patterns being very extensively copied; but he stated, that Mr. Henry had been engaged in business for twenty years; that during the first ten years nearly the whole of his business was carried on by copying the patterns of other persons; but he had adopted during the last ten years the opposite system of producing his own original patterns; yet, although that gentleman stated, that he got his engravings of those copied patterns done for 5l., whilst the original proprietor of the patterns paid 10l., yet he had abandoned copying altogether, although no man ever charged him with having done what was wrong in copying the patterns as the act did not extend to Ireland. He stated, that when they copied the patterns they sold them at 40s. a-piece, or half the price obtained by the original producer, and yet they got at least 20s. profit. He thought this gentleman, at least, had very good reason to be satisfied with the present law. Those who were seeking this extension were only actuated by cupidity, and by a desire to get larger profits. A great number of pamphlets had appeared on this subject. The very individuals who had denounced the present system as piracy and robbery, acknowledge that they themselves had been in the habit of copying French patterns. He saw no sufficient reason for making any change in the existing law, where so many great interests were at stake, in order to satisfy the cupidity of any parties. Piracy, robbery, and he knew not how many other hard names had been employed upon the subject, but Mr. Potter had admitted in his evidence that he had himself written lawyer's letters to different parties, as if for the protection of his own designs, when he had himself only copied French patterns. It was a common custom for parties to receive patterns from abroad, to copy them, and then lo use and claim them as their own invention and property. But the most important consideration was the disastrous effect which a change of the law would produce upon the foreign trade of the country. A German merchant had stated to the committee that the extension of the present term of copyright would operate entirely in favour of rival countries; another foreign merchant had given evidence that such an alteration of the law would benefit every produce country but Great Britain. Mr. Lucas, one of the largest exporters, had stated, that if copyright were to be extended, he should not venture to execute any orders, but would at once give up the trade. Others had expressed their belief that it would create high prices—lessen the employment of engravers—but, above all, be most seriously injurious to the foreign trade of this country. The House ought to advert to the fact that manufacturers were at this moment making most rapid advances in France, Belgium, Prussia, Germany, Russia, and the United States; in many articles they were able to compete with, and in several to undersell us. Into France, Belgium, and Prussia our most improved machinery was introduced, and, from the advantages they possessed of lower wages, cheaper provisions, and lighter taxation, the time might not be very distant when Great Britain would be exposed to a most desperate struggle for superiority. Several competent witnesses had stated, that, if this bill passed, and its provisions were carried into effect, patterns of the greatest beauty and merit would be copied by foreign countries, while they could not be imitated here; and encouragement would be afforded to foreign manufactures, to the depression of our own. He trusted, that what he had already said would be sufficient to induce the House to pause before it adopted the measure of the hon. Member for Belfast. He was in possession of documents which showed the alarming progress of this trade in the United States. Twenty-five years ago it was unknown, and yet in 1839, not fewer than 100,000,000 of yards of calico had been printed, of the value of 2½ millions sterling. Not long since, the United States were supplied exclusively from this country, but of late the export trade to that part of the world had been so reduced, that in 1839 it consisted of only between 800,000 and 900,000 pieces. True it was that schools of design had recently been established in this country, but that course ought to have been pursued long ago, and had it been pursued, he was confident that we should in no respect have been behind France. In the silk trade there were not less than from fifty to one hundred new patterns in the year, and yet it was remarkable that not twenty designs had been registered under Lord Sydenham's act. Feeling a perfect conviction that the bill upon the Table would be most injurious to some of the most important interests of the country, he should move as an amendment that it be read a second time on that day six months.

Mr. Sheil

had been on the committee upon this subject, and it appeared to him that the difficulty attending the measure would be almost immeasurable, so far ns the calico trade was concerned. He made this observation as to the calico trade, because he was free to confess that as to other trades—for example, the paper-hanging trade—he thought there would be less embarrassment. In the latter case the value of the copyright would be greater; for the sale of paper was slower, and consequently the sale of the pattern was of longer duration. It was only in design that France surpassed us in paper-staining; and if we could improve design by an extension of copyright, he, for one, had no doubt that it would not be long before French paper would be excluded from this country. Another consideration with regard to copyright in paper-staining was, that there appeared to be no difference of opinion in the evidence upon that branch of the subject; before the committee no person interested in the trade came forward to give evidence against the extension of copyright in paper-staining. He could not say, that this was the case with respect to the calico trade, for with respect to the extension of the copyright in that trade, certainly very considerable differences existed. The Scotch printers seemed to be almost unanimous in their opinion as to the propriety of extending the copyright. There were 67 printers in Scotland; of these he believed 64 were originally in favour of extension, and he had heard that now the entire body of Scotch printers were in its favour. He believed also that the printing trade in Ireland were chiefly in favour of an extended copyright, and that the two principal manufacturers, Mr. Duffy and Mr. Henry, whose patterns were generally used, were very anxious for such a measure. But in Manchester the difference of opinion amounted to an excitement, and both the hon. Members for that place were opposed to an extension. One of them had made a speech upon the subject, which he thought had made a deep impression. And was it wonderful, under the circumstances, that those who had nothing but the public good at heart, and could not participate in the feelings of the witnesses before the committee, should experience difficulty in arriving at a conclusion? Of the committee themselves, six were for not reporting at all, and six were in favour of reporting, but the chairman gave his casting vote in favour of the principle that the copyright should be extended. Therefore the hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. E. Tennent), who deserved the highest credit for the ability and sagacity he had brought to bear upon the subject, could not say, that, in extending the copyright for twelve months to the calico trade, they would be justified by the report of the committee. It was insisted by the advocates of copyright that most of the arguments against an extension were in truth applicable to the principle of copyright itself, and it was asked—was the period of copyright adequate to its purposes? Were three months adequate? A beautiful pattern was produced at great cost—ten or twelve copyists were lying in wait until the period of three months had expired—and then, without any expense, without paying one farthing for the original design, and without risk,—for they waited for the three months to elapse,—they took the original design, and deluged the market with patterns unskilfully executed, and probably printed on a fabric of an inferior quality. What was the result? Why, that men would not apply their abilities to the production of designs, and thus the public taste was vitiated. It was said on the other hand, that if the arts were made the auxiliaries to commerce, we should very soon be able to compete with France, and he had no doubt of it. But the French could not, after all, compete with us in our manufactures, for in 1839, whilst they exported only 34,000,000 yards of printed and not printed goods, we exported of cotton goods, without distinguishing prints, 751,000,000 yards; and of printed goods upwards of 300,000,000 yards; in the same period the Germans exported 52,000,000 yards. Here then was a great and prosperous trade; and why change the system, it might be asked, under which such prosperity had existed? It was then said, that with respect to the advantages the French enjoyed, it was not from the law of copyright that the public taste was derived, and they could not enact taste by act of Parliament. It was only by the institution of schools of design that the could cultivate the public taste and produce a finer perception of what was beautiful. The right hon. Gentleman then suggested to the hon. Member for Belfast, that the word "imitate" in one of the clauses of his bill should be struck out, as being a perilous word. There was another matter to which he would draw the attention of the hon. Gentleman. In other acts of Parliament, in the 34 George 3rd., passed in 1787, and in Lord Sydenham's act, there was a proviso that the innocent retailer should not be subjected to a penalty. In this respect he hoped the hon. Gentleman would at once sec that his bill should undergo an alteration. At present there were no less than five acts of Parliament upon copyright, this would be the sixth, and it would save much expense and uncertainty if they were all condensed into one. If the hon. Member for Belfast would accept his services in consolidating these six measures into one, he would willingly give him all the assistance in his power.

Mr. Greg

thought that upon the whole, the proposed bill would be productive of a greater amount of mischief than of benefit. He came to that conclusion upon general grounds, and from a firm conviction that protection and restriction were mischievous to the community at large, and were rarely advantageous to the individuals who were fenced in by them. Of a hundred inventions in the cotton trae, there were not half a dozen original. The fact was that the law held out a protection which it could not give. The protection given to those who had taken out patents for mechanical inventions was this:—"if you have a good thing keep it yourself, make a good and a cheap article, and you will establish a sale for it.'' That conduct would get the, manufacturer a price which no protection of the law could give him. The extension of copyright sought to be established by the bill of the hon. Member for Belfast, would be productive of mischief to the calico trade at large, and particularly to the trade of that place which he had the honour to represent (Manchester). Here he would observe that four-fifths of the manufacturers in Manchester and its neighbourhood were opposed to an extension of the copyright, and four-fifths, if not five-sixths, of the whole of the calico in the country was printed in that district. Under the present short copyright of three months a good article was produced with despatch, at a moderate price, the copyist, as the Vice-president of the Board of Trade observed, waiting for the expiration of the three months, before he issued his copies. This was one effect of a short term; but extend it for twelvemonths, and the printer, instead of providing for despatch, and a moderate price, would depend on the law for his protection, and pay no regard to despatch and the lowness of price. The consequence would be an amazing amount of litigation. Almost all the calico printers were copyists, and drew more or less on the invention of others. Nearly all the houses had agents in France, who, from time to time, sent over the new patterns that came out. He imagined a hundred printers engaged in copying the same identical patterns—some making fac similes, others varying them this way or that way, and all these would be protected by a twelvemonth's copyright! Orders came from every quarter of the world for patterns to be printed off, and how was the merchant to know, through the medium of a secret register, who was the original inventor of those patterns? And if he were not able to ascertain that immediately, he might not be able to execute the order in time for the sailing of the vessel which was to convey the pieces. No one engaged in the export trade could doubt, the competition of the manufacturers of foreign countries, and no one who had read the evidence of Dr. Bowring, could have the slightest doubt of the importance of the competition. It was shown, that in the Prussian league, no less than 70,000 cwt. of cotton goods more than was imported, was exported to foreign countries; and three-fourths of the manufactures of Switzerland, were exported to foreign countries. In every kind of goods into which much labour entered, we met with the most fatal competition, of a nature which was constantly increasing. Two years ago he knew that German designs were sent to be executed in Manchester; and as they required much labour, they could not be executed under 2s. 6d. a piece; the consequence was, that the goods were sent to Switzerland to be dyed, and they were returned to Manchester for shipment to America. Now, if the time for the copyright were extended, there would be an increase in the quantity of yarn sent to Germany and Switzerland to be dyed, and of patterns to be executed, which would then have to be brought back for exportation. The increase would operate as a prohibition, and the effect of all prohibitions was as mis- chievous as it was certain and foreseen. Who was to decide on what was a copy, or an imitation? Was it the Lord Chancellor who was to be the judge of what was a copy or not? If they struck out, as had been suggested, the word "imitation," they would get rid of the effect of the prohibition on the copy, for an imitation was a copy; it was not a mere facsimile for which they wanted protection. Who, then, was to say what was an imitation? How could a common jury, unconnected with the cotton trade, decide the question? The difficulty would be immense. The manufacturers of Scotland and Ireland were in favour of the alteration; but the manufacturers of Lancashire, the seat of four-fifths of the trade, though divided, had, he believed, a majority against it. After having given the subject the closest consideration—after having conversed with a vast number of persons, who were best acquainted with it, he still retained the impression on his mind, which he communicated, in the first instance, to the President of the Board of Trade, that the community at large, would be more materially injured than a few individuals could possibly be benefitted by this bill.

Sir Robert Peel

believed, that the committee of the last Session, which had inquired into this subject, had been appointed at his own suggestion. He had attended that committee certainly with no prepossession in favour of an extension of the term of copyright, for he had feared that any change might be injurious to our manufactures, which were decidedly in a state of prosperity, and of increasing prosperity; and if his opinions had undergone any change, it was in consequence of the evidence given before that committee. It was not the question now whether there should be any copyright or not. The law had decided, that there should be given a protection for three months, but, in point of fact, that protection had been found to be inefficient, and if it were right to give a protection at all, it was evidently right that protection should be such as would produce some solid advantage to the parties. On account of the shortness of the duration of the privilege, and the delay and expense of defending it, the three months' protection was merely nominal. He did not deny that there were conflicting opinions, which it would be well to regard, when they came to weigh the ex- tent to which the protection should be increased; but with regard to the second reading of the bill, he thought that such a just claim for additional protection of some kind or other had been made out, that it was impossible to refuse assent to the present step. In the evidence taken before the committee, Mr. Schwabe, a gentleman resident in Manchester, and engaged in calico printing, said, that he drew between 2,000 and 3,000 patterns in a year, of which he selected about 500 patterns. Mr. E. Potter made the same number of designs, of which 250 were engraved, and 300 cut in blocks. Mr. Brooks, out of a like number of designs, had only from 400 to 600 used. So that not more than one in six of the designs actually made were used; and of those selected, only a small portion were successful. These persons having gone to the whole expense of drawing the largest number of designs, having encountered the whole risk of failure, were subject to this inconvenience and loss, that any individual finding which out of the 2,000 or 3,000 designs were likely to be successful, could seize upon the one pattern, and come into the market as a competitor, with equal advantage to the first manufacturer, though the copyer had been at no expense whatever for the design. Nor was the evil limited to the mere piracy, the copyist discredited the superior design, by producing it in an inferior form and substance. Just in the same way, the mawkish imitators of Lord Byron and Walter Scott, had almost disgusted the public with the writings of the original poets, admirable as they were. Our inferiority in point of design was admitted. He was willing to avow, that it was not only in the length of copyright, but in the superior taste for design, that France obtained an advantage over us. But if we exposed the original designer to the injustice he had described, must not that impede our improvement in designs, and the advancement of art and science. He thought that the hon. Gentleman who had last spoken, had made a mistake in opposing this bill, because it would prevent competition, for there was nothing in the bill to prevent persons competing who had other designs. If they extended competition further, they would permit the injustice of allowing one man to avail himself of the superior skill and expense of another. Let the competitor produce other designs of equal merit, but it was an abuse to enable him to profit by the labour and expenditure of another. It was mainly on account of the injustice to the original designer, made by the present law, and the injury thus inflicted, that he now supported the second reading of this bill. At the same time, he could not conceal from himself the possible effect which the bill might have upon the manufacturers. The strong argument against the bill was, that while we were preventing the copying or imitation of designs in this country, we could not take any precautions to prevent them from being copied in other countries; consequently the English patterns were liable to be copied in Belgium, in France, and in every foreign country where calico printing was introduced; but, at the same time, he must say, that the facility which now existed in England of copying designs had a tendency to lower the character of British manufactures in foreign markets, because parties could copy the design in an inferior form, and pass off that inferior production as the English manufacture. In weighing this bill, therefore, they must set one consideration against another. He would reserve his opinion as to the extent to which additional protection ought to be given; but in discussing now the simple question, whether, there being a copyright that ought to be bonâ fide and effectual for the purpose, he thought it ought to be sufficiently extensive to provide that protection. It was a different question to say what period should be assigned to the protections, because, if they made it too long, they would facilitate foreign competition; at the same time, it ought to be made so long now that they should not be required to legislate again. They should make up their minds as to the time which was upon the whole proper, and upon that they ought to legislate.

Mr. Warburton

would vote for the second reading of the bill, because he agreed with the right hon. Baronet in the reasonableness of the end proposed—namely, to give reward to the inventor, and, at the same time, to protect the manufacturer. When they came to consider the details of that bill, two great difficulties would arise. One had been already pointed out, namely, the great litigation which it would cause. By not proposing a cheap mode of trying the issue they lost the object for which the patent was granted, for the wealthy manufacturer would be able to tyrannise over the smaller the latter would in general be compelled to withdraw from the contest. If, therefore, they did not provide a cheap and expeditious Court, before which the parties could go, they really did nothing; and unless he saw such a remedy provided, he should oppose the bill of the hon. Gentleman in all its subsequent stages. But another difficulty arose out of the very nature of the subject to be protected. This manufacture had existed and been growing for the last forty or fifty years. In the case of chemical or mechanical inventions, they had records of all the originals from time immemorial. But, in the present case, no such records existed. They ought, therefore, to begin by giving one or two years, in order to enable parties to register all patterns existing, or invented in past time, so that it might always be ascertained whether any particular pattern was or was not original. The case was the same as if they were then, for the first time, seeking to establish patents for chemical and mechanical inventions, without having any record of what had been already done. The greatest difficulty, therefore, in the present case, arose out of the subject to which it was proposed to give patent rights. They had no record of the inventions for the lust forty or fifty years. How then was the claim of the alleged inventor to be established? There should be a record to which the judges could refer in case of dispute. But there was yet another difficulty arising out of this bill. Whilst it prohibited English manufacturers in this country from copying a foreign, there was nothing to prohibit a foreign manufacturer from copying an English patent. It appeared to him indispensable, in order to carry out the principle, that there should be an international copyright. He would, on another occasion, examine separately the clauses of the right hon. Gentleman's bill, but it appeared to him that the difficulties which he had stated deserved the consideration of the House: he stated that the principle had been already conceded, and, therefore, that they ought not to resist going into Committee. He did not resist their going into Committee, but he should not admit the force of the right hon. Baronet's arguments, because the right hon. Baronet had in the next sentence admitted that the present measure was wholly inoperative.

Lord Francis Egerton

said, that not anticipating, after the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, (Mr. Sheil) and of the right hon. Baronet near him (Sir R. Peel) that there would be any opposition to the second reading of this bill, he would not detain the House by entering into any details, which would be better considered in Committee. He had only one observation to make. The hon. Gentleman, the Member for Manchester, said that he believed the manufacturers of Scotland and of Ireland were generally favourable to this measure, but of the county of Lancaster the hon. Member spoke in such a manner as to leave the House under the impression that the manufacturers of Lancashire was unanimous in opposition to this bill. He was perfectly certain that the hon. Gentleman did not mean to convey that impression, because he believed that the case in the county which he had the honour to represent stood thus—that a majority in numbers as well as in the quantity of manufactures were ranged in support of the measure, not in all its details, but they agreed to the principle of making the copyright an effectual protection for some enlarged time or other, which all admitted did not exist under the present law.

Mr. Greg

explained that he had not said that four-fifths of the manufacturers resident in Lancashire were opposed to the measure; he believed that they were pretty evenly divided in opinion, but that upon the whole a majority were averse to any alteration.

Mr. Labouchere

, in supporting the second reading of the present bill, must be understood that he was merely expressing an opinion that the present period of copyright for designs should be in some degree extended. It was impossible to consider the evidence taken before the committee of last year, or the statements of persons connected with the trade, without coming to the conclusion that great injustice was done to those who were possessed of a valuable copyright, and which was not fair towards those who had paid for the designs at a great expense; but that it also inflicted a a great practical injury to the manufacturers of this country, because it rendered it impossible for us to give encouragement to the property of a class of men whose interest was inseparably connected with the manufactures of this coun- try—he meant the designers. He could not but think that it had been shown that the present state of the law was such as to discourage those parties, and to make us inferior in points of design. We had recently established schools of design, and he held that it was the duty of the Government to extend the principle which had been adopted by the House, and to give every encouragement to the Government school; but he believed, that unless they gave additional protection to designers, the schools would be of little use; they could not expect any great good unless they gave protection to men who had qualified themselves by an expensive education, and could find their only remuneration in the copyright. For these reasons he was prepared to consider the subject; but, on the other hand, he could not be indifferent to the state of our commerce, and to the effect which any rash measure might have upon that mainstay of our manufactures, the export trade; because it was on the cheapness and on the quantity, rather than the quality, of our manufactures, that their main prosperity rested. And he was the more jealous of not doing any injury to that trade by giving an unnecessary extension to the protection that now existed to the copyright, because the hon. Member for Manchester had stated, correctly he believed, that in Lancashire, the great seat of these manufactures, the manufacturers were pretty evenly divided in opinion upon the propriety of a change, but that upon the whole the majority were averse to it. And he knew not only that interests were divided upon it, but that partners in the same firm, and whose interests were identical, had come to extremely opposite opinions. Upon the whole, therefore, he believed that the House would do well to err rather on the side of not extending the copyright too much, because he could not agree in the doctrine laid down by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that they should legislate finally now; be thought that this was peculiarly a subject upon which they might come back and make any alteration by way of extension which future experience should prove to be right; whilst, on the other hand, if they did anything that should check our export trade, the market would be gone, and they could not so easily reconsider their steps. He was, therefore, unwilling to extend the period of copyright beyond six months. He admitted that there would be great difficulties in carrying the principle into effect, and he agreed that the details of the bill would require close attention and consideration; but the department with which he was connected would give its best assistance, and he thought in this case, as in many others, the ingenuity of his hon. Friend the Member for Bridport had been rather a trap for his judgment. He hoped that the bill might be made useful to the community, advantageous to a meritorious class of persons in this country, and unproductive of any injurious results.

Mr. Hume

was sorry to hear in the speech of the right hon. Member such language as Government protecting commerce or encouraging trade, because he thought that every reasonable man, looking at the evils which had been produced by protection, and knowing that it in ail cases meant the support of the few at the expense of the many, would be at a loss to find the ground on which the right hon. Gentleman had come to his present conclusion. Why, he would ask, were the people of England inferior to the French in works of design? It was natural that it should be so, for their people were used from their infancy to the study of pictures and statues, while our population were refused admission into Westminster Abbey or the Royal Academy without putting their hand into their pocket. The poor could not do this, and the consequence was they were shut out from all chance of improving their taste. Should we, then, complain of our inferiority in producing designs for those fabrics when we shut out from all means of improving their taste the middling as well as the lower classes of the community. He would state one fact to the House, in order to show how little attention had been paid to this subject. In the committee which sat for the purpose of investigating this question he had asked a witness how many designers there were in the town of Coventry, and he replied but one. We were looking, then, for a remedy to a wrong quarter. Every time it had been attempted to foster manufactures by protection that attempt failed more or less. The system of protection, or monopoly, never was attended with any successful result. He particularly remembered one instance which struck him as remarkable. An Act of Parliament had been passed to encourage the use of buckles, and in less than five years after the passing of that Act the use of buckles had altogether ceased. The President of the Board of Trade had rightly stated, that it was quantity more than anything else which extended over the calico trade, and that arose from the circumstance of the three months protection being a dead letter. It was on that account that our manufactures prospered to so great an extent as they had. If a real protection existed from the period at which it was intended to give it to calico manufactures, he had no hesitation in saying that we never would have commanded the extensive foreign trade which we now possessed. Was it to be supposed that the employment and support of the immense number of persons who were engaged in our manufactures were to be risked by the adoption of a measure, the only object of which was to secure the advantages of superior skill to certain individuals? He conceived they were not; and further, he thought that by sanctioning such a bill they would do nothing towards procuring that superior skill, unless they first gave the people the means of acquiring and appreciating it, by enabling them to improve their tastes by the free inspection of all those works of art, which was a means best calculated to produce such an end. The national advantage was all that should be looked to, and the principle of the procurement of that advantage was that which he advocated. He had heard the declaration of his hon. Friend the Member for Bridport with much regret. His hon. Friend had described many of the evil consequences which would arise upon the bill, but then he had declared his intention to vote hi favour of it. For his own part, he could not distinguish between copyright of design and copyright of books, and the effect of both was to give an advantage to the few against the many. After the noble example of untiring energy and zeal which his hon. Friend had exhibited in defeating the measures for the extension of the copyright in books, he was astonished not a little to hear him support the second reading of the bill then before the House. He had hoped to hear the right hon. Gentleman stand up and say, that the three months' protection had done harm, and that the whole system should be freed of such a difficulty. He concurred with the hon. Member for Manches- ter in all the facts which he had brought forward against the bill. Although he was not connected with the manufacturing interest, he would oppose the principle upon which the present measure was based. Let those who supported monopoly vote for this bill. He, on principle, should vote against it, and he sincerely trusted that the House would not, through mistake, retrace their steps, and again countenance a system of protection which had been already found to be so injurious in its effects.

Mr. Ewart

said, he believed, that in the committee the principle of extending copyright was agreed to by only a majority of one. [No, no.]

Mr. E. Tennent

had been appealed to, and he could assure the hon. Member that the decision was come to by a majority of six to three.

Mr. Ewart

believed, that the real principle was decided by the casting vote of the Chairman. He was opposed lo the bill, because he feared that if it became the law of the land they would shut themselves out from being the great suppliers of the world. He was of opinion, with the hon. Member for Kilkenny, that superiority of design was not to be procured from the adoption of a system of copyright, but that such an object was to be looked for rather from the improved taste of the people, and also from the superior taste of the producer, which would be the result of the altered opinion of the community. He confessed, that he had the greatest scepticism on the subject of protection. He thought, that the designs, however ingeniously constructed, would be copied as ingeniously, and, at the same time, with so much difference as to prevent their falling within the provision of the law. The whole question, he thought, should be taken into consideration, and the House should not confine its attention to any particular part of the inquiry. With regard to the question of the extent of the copyright, he must say, that after due deliberation he had decided in favour of the shorter term; and he could not alter the opinion which he had formed, unless very good reasons were given to induce him to do so. He admitted, that much praise was due to the hon. Member for Belfast for the manner in which he had brought the subject before the House, but he could not vote for his bill in its present shape.

Mr. Godson

wished to set the hon. Member right as to the decision of the committee, in favour of the extension of copyright. The resolution was carried not by a majority of one but of seven to one.

Mr. Muntz

was surprised to hear from the hon. Member for Manchester, that the protection was useless to the inventors, whereas the fact was, that the most enterprising manufacturers in the country owed all their wealth to the protection, such as it was, that the present law afforded to them. He would support the bill, because he thought it was both just and prudent for the Legislature to give that degree of perfection which would induce ingenious men to devote their time to the invention of designs.

Mr. E. Tennent

would not occupy the time of the House by discussing the principle of the bill on this occasion. He would be happy to avail himself of the offer of the Vice-president of the Board of Trade, and to make, with the right hon. Gentlemen's assistance, the provisions of the measure as perfect and comprehensive as possible.

Amendment withdrawn. Bill read a second time.

Mr. E. Tennent

said, that the amendments suggested by the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, would require much consideration, and he should, therefore, move the committal of the bill pro formâ on Friday night next, when he would give notice of his further intentions respecting the promotion of the measure.

To be committed on Friday.

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