HC Deb 20 April 1842 vol 62 cc890-3

House in committee on Copyright Bill, and

Clause 15 (relating to piracies by extracting) being proposed,

Mr. Wakley

said, he thought this clause would prevent elegant extracts being put into school-books; he wished to know what effect this clause would have with respect to the existing law, which was at present very stringent; but stringent though it was, it was believed that the proposed clause would be much more so.

Mr. Godson

did not see any reason for this apprehension. The clause allowed extracts for purposes of "criticism," "judgment," or "argument." Now, in all cases of injunction, the equity judge had to decide how far the extracts were injurious to the book, and if they were merely bonâ fide for such purposes as these, they would come within the exceptions of the clause, exceptions which would undoubtedly include selections for school-books; whereas, were the words "or school-books" specially introduced, under the cover of that language whole works would be republished.

Mr. Aglionby

opposed the clause. It appeared to him, that the effect of passing this clause would be, that the large class of books on important subjects which, from their cheapness, were accessible to the public, would no longer be placed within their reach. It was, in his opinion, entirely inconsistent with the public interest that this clause should be agreed to.

Lord Mahon

said, it was desired by the clause to re-enact the existing law with reference to extracts. It was quite evident, that any extracts for criticism, observation, or argument would not come within the law as it at present stood; but it was necessary to adopt some measure for the prevention of the artifices which are constantly resorted to in order to profit by extracts from popular works. His hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Godson) had stated to the House what the existing law was; they were all agreed that the proposed law should not be less forcible as a protection to copyright than the existing one, and it was only proposed to re-enact by this clause that which is already in operation in reference to the publication of extracts.

Mr. Godson

explained, that the clause as framed was a strict definition of what would be piracy, and therefore ought to be preserved as part of the bill.

Mr. Wakley

was of opinion, the clause would have a most injurious effect, inasmuch as it would prevent the publication of extracts from the most useful works, and which appeared in such publications as Chambers's Journal and the Mirror— works which found their way into almost every cottage.

Mr. Godson

contended that no jury would find such extracts as appeared in the Mirror or Chambers's Journal to be injurious to the author; but, on the other hand, if more lengthy extracts were made would the House leave the author without a remedy?

Dr. Bowring

thought the clause would be an impediment to the general diffusion of literature through works with which all were familiar, and which contributed so much to the celebrity of the authors quoted.

The committee divided on the question that the clauses as amended stand part of the bill.

The numbers were—Ayes 36; Noes 11: Majority 25.

List of the AYES.
Adderley, C. B. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Arkwright, G. Jackson, J. D.
Bailey, J. Lockhart, W.
Baskerville, T. B. M. McGeachy, F. A
Bodkin, W. H. Marsham, Visct.
Botfield, B. Miles, W.
Broadley, H. Morris, D.
Campbell, A. O'Brien, A. S.
Christie, W. D. O'Brien, W. S.
Christopher, R. A. Pakington, J. S.
Colvile, C. R. Palmer, G.
Cripps, W. Rous, hon. Capt.
Darby, G. Scott, hon. F.
Dickinson, F. H. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Farnham, E. B. Whitmore, T. C.
Fielden, J. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Forbes, W.
Gladstone, right hon. W. E. TELLERS.
Mahon, Visct.
Hardy, J. Godson, Mr.
Howard, P. H.
List of the NOES.
Blake, Sir V. Thorneley, T.
Bowring, Dr. Villiers, hon. C.
Brotherton, J. Williams, W.
Cobden, R.
Evans, W. TELLERS.
Ewart, W. Aglionby, H.
Muntz, G. F. Wakley, T.
Plumridge, Capt.

Clause agreed to.

On clause 24,

Mr. Aglionby

said, that by that clause any of the judges either of the courts of equity or common law would be empowered to grant injunctions in cases of piracy. He would beg to ask whether such a proposition was not a new feature rather than a re-enactment of the law of copyright?

Mr. Godson

believed the power of granting injunctions was at the present time possessed by all the common law judges, though certainly such power was not exercised. He thought that there were many reasons why the power should exist, but, of course, it would be for the Lord Chancellor to propose an alteration of the clause, if be pleased, when the bill came under the consideration of the House of Lords.

Mr. Wakley

said, that the plaintiff ought to be prevented from going to the Court of Chancery at all, and be compelled at once to go to the Common Law Courts.

Mr. Godson

said, that now if a plaintiff went into the Chancery court he would get his injunction, but he would get no damages, and the object of the present clause was to enable him to get both his injunction and his damages in the same court. But if the suggestion of the hon. Member for Finsbury were adopted, a man would be compelled to sue for damages. It would prevent him from being satisfied with the injunction.

Mr. Darby

thought, that the gift to the Common Law Courts of so large a power for the first time ought not to be granted without mature consideration.

Lord Mahon

for his own part, concurred in opinion with his hon. Friend (Mr. Godson), but as the new power given to the Common Law Courts was so strongly opposed by hon. Members who had given him their support throughout, he felt bound to consent to the omission of the Courts of Common Law.

Mr. Jackson

suggested that a middle course between the two parties might be adopted by giving the power to the Common Law Courts only when the proceedings in the case had once been attached to such courts, and they had already gained jurisdiction.

Sir R. Inglis

supported the suggestion.

Mr. Gladstone

advised the postponement of the clause.

Viscount Mahon

thought, after all the discussion, that it would be better to omit the clause for the present, and in bringing up the report it could again be introduced.

Clause 24 omitted.

Remaining clauses agreed to. House resumed. Bill to be reported.