Mr. E. Tennent
rose to move the second reading of the bill for consolidating and amending the laws relating to copyright in designs for ornamenting articles of manufacture. It was now the third Session in which he had had the honour to submit a measure on' the subject, and as there was a large proportion of the Members of the House who had not had seats in the last Parliament, and consequently were not aware of what had already passed upon the matter, and as some opposition was threatened to the bill, he hoped he would be favoured with the attention of the House for a few moments, whilst he endeavoured very briefly to explain its scope and objects. There were in this and in every other country which aspired to refinement two branches of art, distinct in their application, though essentially identical in their origin — namely, art pre-eminently so called, as in a statue or a picture, where the value of the material was comparatively nothing, and, apart from its beauty, it was applicable to no definable use, and art as applied to decoration upon such substances, and destined to such purposes as combined utility with ornament, and which formed the great staple of the manufactures of Europe. In the encouragement which was afforded to the first of these the law of England exhibited a just and an enlightened generosity, which contrasted most disadvantageously with the scanty and unbecoming protection which it extended to the other. A painter who chooses to engrave one of his drawings can have for it in the form of a print a copyright for twenty-eight years, or for life if he survive that period; but if he permit one of his designs to be printed on cotton or silk instead of paper, his copyright shrinks at once from twenty-eight years to three months. In like manner a sculptor, if he publish a bas-relief upon marble, can claim for it an exclusive title for fourteen years, to be doubled if he live so long; but if he choose to chase it on a cup or a wine cooler, it becomes "a design for manufactures," and is entitled to no more than three years' protection. Any one who 668 looked no farther into the subject than the first inference to be drawn from a distinction so broadly marked, as this would be disposed to conclude, that in the contemplation of the Legislature, art lost its dignity and forfeited its privileges the moment it came into contact with utility, or was applied to the decoration of manufactures; and yet a moment's observation will demonstrate, that it is to the intimate combination of art and design with every branch of our industry, that the manufactures of this country, and still more especially those of the continent, are indebted for their superiority and success. Experience has shown us, that in every country of Europe in which art has been induced and encouraged to blend itself with manufacture, precisely in the proportion to their combination have all their productions which manifest taste and minister to refinement risen into estimation and preeminence. In confirmation of this, it is only necessary to look to the appreciation which prevails in every country of the world for the silks of Lyons and the muslins of Alsace; for the bijouterie and jewellery of Paris; the iron castings of Prussia; the glass of Bohemia, and the china of Dresden, Berlin, and Sevres. It was with a view to promote this intimate incorporation of industry and art, of elevating and improving the character of design as applied to articles of manufacture in this country, and thus enabling us still more successfully to compete with our rivals upon the continent of Europe, that he had framed his bill; and it was on this ground alone, that he claimed for it the support and the favour of the House. In every department of industrial art it was incontestable, that the productions of France stood pre-eminently at the head of all the countries of Europe, and the causes of the superiority were to be traced distinctly to two obvious sources; first, the superior training of her artisans in her numerous schools of design; and, secondly, to the encouragement and protection derivable from a law of copyright in their designs, which gave them a remunerative interest in their works for three, five, or fifteen years, and even for life, if they desired it. He knew that there were some Gentlemen in the House, and amongst them the hon. Member for Coventry, who were disposed to question the accuracy of the assertion, that this law and their excellence were the cause and effect; and who ascribed their undoubted superiority 669 to some natural configuration in the artists of France, which had been withheld from the inhabitants of this country—some organs for the special production of designs; as it had been said by some similar materialist,—That Milton had glands in his brain,Which secreted the Paradise Lost."But, however a metaphysical argument may be sustained upon the point, one fact, at least admits neither of a question nor doubt—that, so far from an effectual copyright for designs being prejudicial to manufactures, those of France have attained the very highest point of excellence and of beauty, as well as the most extended demand in every market of the world, concurrently with the enjoyment of the most extended term of protection. The words, too, in which the copyright was conferred in France were very remarkable, as exhibiting the results of practical experience in that country. The first law of copyright in France was passed in 1737, for the silk-weavers of Lyons; and in 1787, it was extended to the rest of the kingdom, in an ordinance of which the following is the preamble:—The King in Council having caused to be laid before him the representation and memorials of the manufacturers of Tours and Lyons, respecting the attacks upon their property and the general interests of manufacturers, by copying their designs, his Majesty recognises that the superiority which the silk manufacture of this kingdom has acquired is principally due to the invention, correctness, and good taste of design; and that the emulation which animates the manufacturers and designers will be annihilated if they are not assured of reaping the fruits of their labours; and that this certainly has hitherto maintained the manufacture in France, and secured for it a preference in foreign countries.And then follows the enactment of a copyright of designs for fifteen years—a protection which was subsequently extended to the life of the inventor, and applied not only to silk, but to every branch of manufacturing industry, and which had been productive of the most beneficial results throughout the entire range of the manufactures of France. Such is the state of the law on this subject in France; and he would now very briefly state the provisions in this country. Down to the year 1839, the only law of copyright in designs which existed in England was an act of the year 1794, conferring a copyright of three months upon printed calicoes and linens; 670 but no other article, not even woven patterns had any copyright whatsoever, till Mr. Poulett Thomson, in 1839, introduced two bills, by one of which he extended the existing act to printed silks and woollens; and by another he affixed various terms of copyright to numerous other articles, giving a protection of three years to designs in metals, and twelve months to every other branch of manufacture, silk weaving, carpet making, paper hangings, and all other articles in which the value of the patterns forms an essential element in computing the value of the whole. It was Mr. Poulett Thomson's wish in this bill to have given the same protection of twelve months to printed goods as to woven designs; but as his act required that every design should be registered as a condition precedent, and the fee on such registration was fixed at one guinea, the parties, from a dread of the expense, as well as the inconvenience in their expensive operations, begged to be exempted from the operation of the measure till the system should have been tested by experience. Since that period the main suggestions which have been made, and in compliance with which the present bill has been framed, have been to consolidate all the laws upon this subject in one act; to place the manufactures in glass and earthenware, which had but twelve months' copyright upon the same footing as manufactures in metal; to extend the term of copyright for paper-hangings, carpets, and shawls, from one year to three; and lastly, to extend the copyright for printed designs from the original term of three months to nine—a proposition which had met for a time considerable resistance, but to which he was induced to believe, that some of the leading opponents were now disposed to withdraw their opposition. These printed designs are by far the most valuable and important of all to which the act applies, and the law exhibits this indefensible anomaly respecting them, that between the copyright for a design printed upon one piece of silk or muslin, and woven into another, there is a difference of nine months. Nay, further, as it frequently happens, that the same design is both woven into and printed upon the same piece of cloth, it has in one process a protection of twelve months, and in the other only of three; and this, too, whilst the process to which there is the slightest protection is by far the most easily invaded, and requires the most prompt and effectual protection of the two. The opposition to 671 this measure has, as a matter of course been confined almost exclusively to those who have themselves been in the habit of treating the inventions of their more ingenious competitors as public property, and who felt that any effectual law would interfere with these practices. And associated with these were also a few gentlemen, untainted by any dishonourable practices, but conscientiously entertaining some vague and ill-grounded apprehensions for the effect of any change upon the economy of the trade, which have been now in a great degree removed. With the single exception of a few houses in Manchester, every printer in England was in favour of the measure he had now to propose; and an equal unanimity prevailed on the subject both in Scotland and in Ireland, where every individual in the trade, without exception, had petitioned this House to pass the bill. The House, too, would bear in mind that he was seeking to introduce no new principle, but simply to give effect to a well-meant provision, which already existed in the statute law, but which through the lapse of time had become inoperative. For upwards of half a century the principle had been received and acted upon, that some copyright should be provided for designers, and all he now sought was to fix an equitable and reasonable period for its duration, such as would give effect to the intentions of the Legislature. In this course, too, he was fortified by the report of a committee of the House of Commons, which sat in the year 1840, and after a long and laborious investigation came to the conclusion that it was expedient for the interests of the trade, both at home and abroad, that the term of copyright should be extended. He would, if he acted on his own judgment alone, be in favour of extending it from three months to twelve, and thus placing printed designs upon the same footing with woven patterns; but, in deference to the opinions of some whose judgment he respected, and from a desire rather to conciliate than to overrule the prejudices of others, he had adopted the middle term of nine months, which, although it was inadequate for many of the purposes which he sought to provide, was still sufficient for others, and, on the whole, would he a material improvement on the present law. It was somewhat remarkable, that the entire bill, applying to every manufacture in the whole range of British industry, was not only unopposed, but joyfully hailed by all 672 the parties interested, with one single exception, and that on the part of a section of the trade of calico printing; and to that branch alone, he would, therefore, confine the observations which he had to make, in recommending it to the adoption of the House. In this branch of manufactures, a greater number of designs are required, than in any other in England, and for this reason, that in every other department, not only in manufactures in metal but in articles for dress, the material is infinitely more costly and durable, and the uses to which they are applied, more permanent and unchanging. In calicoes and muslins, on the contrary, novelty and beauty are of infinitely more importance than durability and strength, and it is essential to meet the demand of every fluctuating fashion by an endless rotation of new and contrasting designs. To those, therefore, who have not the genius or the capital to provide these for themselves in sufficiently rapid succession, the utmost temptation is held out to appropriate and live upon the inventions of their more talented and enterprising competitors; and thus a disgraceful and demoralizing system of piracy and pilfering has been engendered to which it is the object of this bill to put an effectual check. This will be the more easily understood, when he explained, that a design which might cost its ingenious inventor some 20l. or 30l., which it may have taken some months to produce and to engrave, and involved the necessity of many unsuccessful experiments, before it was exactly suited to the cloth, might be copied by the pirate in a few moments, with the aid of a sheet of tracing paper, and produced on inferior cloth, and in inferior colours, so speedily as to enter the market almost simultaneously in competition with the original from which it was stolen. The mischief inflicted upon the original producer by this indefensible system was almost incredible, since its effects were felt in every process of his trade. Not only is he undersold in his own markets, but the character and reputation of his house are undermined by these spurious re-issues of its productions, and the confidence of his customers is shaken by finding these cheap imitations offered in direct competition with the more costly originals in their hands. The pirate, in fact, has infinite inducements to this unlawful traffic; he runs no risk of failure in his speculations, since he selects only the successful patterns of his neighbours, who have to bear the loss on those which are 673 unsuccessful, and not only has he all his designs supplied to him at a trifling cost, but he enters the market at the very moment when they are in full demand, and has thus an instant return for his capital invested. The House, he was quite certain, were not aware of the ruinous extent to which this system was carried on by certain houses at Manchester, which was the only district in the kingdom in which piracy was known to exist. He would read to the House one or two statements with reference to it, from the evidence given before the committee of 1840, which would afford them some idea of its extent and effects. One gentleman of considerable eminence as a calico-printer at Manchester, when examined by the committee, stated unhesitatingly, that for many years of his life, his whole business had consisted of one indiscriminate system of piracy; that he copied of his neighbour's designs, just as many as suited his purpose, sometimes within the period of the three months' copyright, and sometimes after its expiration; that he generally printed his copies upon inferior cloth, and in inferior colours, so as to undersell the original producer and yet leave himself a fair profit; and that he took the precaution to publish his goods "as the act directs," so as actually to claim the original property in the designs he appropriated; and if challenged, he would have defended them as such, though aware of the contrary, and relied on his purse to defeat the injured proprietor. As an instance of the extent to which it was practised in the foreign trade, he begged the attention of the House to the following evidence of an eminent merchant in the city, as given before the committee of 1840.—Mr. Louis Lucas.—Is a merchant of the firm of Nicholls, Lucas, and Co., extensive dealers in printed calicoes for foreign export.Are you in the habit of having goods printed expressly for yourselves from your own designs?—Yes, frequently, from what is exhibited to us, but this is the nature of our business: we are in the habit of receiving from abroad almost constantly, as the packets arrive, patterns of goods suitable to those markets. We have a branch house at Manchester, and they are sent to it, and we endeavour to find out such calico printers as will produce them at the cheapest rate.Irrespective of who may be the proprietor or inventor of the pattern?—We ask no questions upon that subject.And you pay no regard to the fact whose property these patterns may be, provided you can get them executed at a price such as may 674 suit the market?—It has never entered our heads to ask that question.Price alone is the object with you?ߞ Price alone is the object.Do you purchase largely of printed goods? —We do; in the last six months our shipments must have been 60,000 pieces.Are you aware there is a law giving a copyright of three months to designs on printed calicoes?—I have heard so.This gentleman thinks "nothing more destructive to the commerce of the country could have been suggested" than any extension of the copyright; the effect of it being, that he could then get no printer in Manchester to undertake his peculiar orders. Now, he can take a pattern round the trade till he finds who will do it cheapest; and, he says, "such is the frailty of people," that if the original proprietor wont come down to his terms he can always find a copyist who will. And as for the present protection of three months, he never found it, in his operations, to be an obstacle, "or any protection at all." Mr. Edward Brooke, a printer of furniture calicoes, states that piracy prevails to such an extent in his particular branch of trade, that at one time "every pattern produced by his house" was copied by a rival establishment. Mr. Warwick, belonging to another eminent house in the city, stated that on a recent occasion the entire of his designs, intended for the coming season, were pirated in one batch; the consequence of which was, he says, "ruinous to him, and completely paralyzed his trade." Mr. Henry, of Dublin, declares that his establishment has suffered "to an extent almost beyond telling," by copies of his goods being made for export in Manchester, his best patterns being fastened on for that purpose, and his profit on the remainder destroyed in consequence. In December, 1839, he delivered to one gentleman 700 pieces of goods, consisting of eighty-three different patterns, and in the January following (that is, within one month) copies of the whole eighty-three were brought to the same gentleman, pattern for pattern, worked on inferior cloth, and offered 20 per cent. lower than he (Mr. Henry) could afford to sell them at. In other instances orders actually given had been cancelled before they could be fulfilled, in consequence of piratical copies making their way into the market. He declared that his business, in consequence of this ruinous practice,Was almost at a stand-still, that he is never able to effect a second sale of the same pat- 675 tern, on account of the profusion of copies in the market, and which are thrown in his teeth every time he asks for an order.He might go on to any extent, citing similar cases from the voluminous mass of evidence taken by the committee, but the examples he had adduced were sufficient to show the prevalence of the evil for which he sought to apply a remedy. The existing law was, in fact, a dead letter; and the delusive protection which it professed to extend was in reality found, as confessed by Mr. Louis Lucas, to be "no protection at all." One striking fact the House will not fail to observe in these proceedings—that this system of plunder takes place within the period of the three months' protection held out by the present law; and they will naturally ask why resort is not had to it for security and redress? The reason of this is obvious: that the terms is so short, and the copyright it confers so valueless, that it is not worth the trouble and cost of appealing to justice for a remedy. The whole duration of the privilege is but twelve or thirteen weeks; of these it requires a few to test the merit and success of a design in the market; a few more must elapse before a piracy can be ready for sale; and then, before an action could be brought to a hearing, what with costs, delay, and trouble, the short remnant of the copyright that would survive would be utterly disproportionate to the expenses of asserting a right in it, and the injured party, aware of the fact, prefers suffering in silence to an appeal to law which would be productive of no real advantage. The failure of the protection is thus ascribable to the shortness of its duration; but if this, instead of three months, were extended to twelve, or even to nine, the injured proprietor of a design would be conscious of such an interest in it as to warrant him in taking steps for its assertion and defence, and dishonesty would no longer be openly practised, as it now is, with utter impunity. This, however, is but one illustration of the manner in which the intention of the law is defeated by its own insufficiency; and in every point of view the same conclusion is inevitable to those who would take the trouble to look at the subject Even if the rights and property of the inventor were unassailed, the short space of three months was too little to give him an opportunity for reimbursing himself for his outlay and labour. Three months would not insure to him the uninterrupted sale of a single season, sum- 676 mer or winter: whilst the retail trader was deterred from giving large orders for his goods, conscious that the three months were too short to afford him any security of being able to dispose of them, and that at the expiration of that period he might be left with a heavy stock, to be undersold by inferior copies of the very same designs. The necessity, therefore, for extension is as obviously for the interest of the shopkeeper as the manufacturer. Under the most favourable circumstances, therefore, three months is an utterly inadequate protection for the sale of a design in the home market; but its inadequacy is still more palpable in the foreign market and the export trade, where the distance to which goods are sent is so great, that before they can reach their destination, and a letter could return to announce their success, and convey a second order, the copyright would have long before expired, and the order would go, as in the cases stated by Mr. Lucas, not to remunerate the ingenious inventor, but to such of his rivals as would consent to copy his patterns, and undersell him by their reproduction. In fact, Mr. Lucas justifies the system pursued by his own house upon that very ground, and when asked in the committee whether he was aware that the orders he gave were in violation of the law, he at once declared that the orders he received even from the West Indies came from such a distance that the copyright must have expired, and he therefore went to work fearlessly. But another and most valuable branch of the trade of this country consisted of goods which are suitable to both the home and the foreign markets, and sell equally in both; and for these the present law did not hold out even the promise of protection. A very large proportion of the calicoes printed in England are sold in the United States, in Belgium, in Prussia, and in Germany generally, as well as in Italy, and the ports of the Levant, and these articles are equally saleable in England, but at a different season of the year. For the foreign market they must be shipped in October in each year, whilst for the home market they are not delivered till the spring opens—say in February or March. If, then, the manufacturer claims his copyright for them at October, before making his foreign shipment, it will expire in the January following, a month before his home demand begins; and if he prefer to postpone his protection to cover his home sales, the pi- 677 rates, by procuring a pattern of his goods delivered in October, can legally reproduce and publish them simultaneously with himself, on the opening of the spring season at home. He must, therefore, forego the advantages of the law in one market or the other; or even refuse to supply orders for the one, as his only expedient to secure his copyright in the other. For no one branch of the trade, therefore, is the present law an adequate protection—neither for the home trade, nor the foreign, nor that which sells for both conjointly— whereas the extension which he proposed, would render it effectual and available in each and in all. The injury which resulted from this imperfect state of the law to the manufacturers of this kingdom was so obvious, that he would not occupy unnecessarily the time of the House in alluding to it. But there was another point of view in which the question became one of national importance, and well worthy of the grave consideration of the House of Commons—and that was the permanent effect of such a discouraging system upon the industry of this country, upon the taste and excellence of its productions, upon their character abroad, and upon our prospects of competing in the same productions with our rivals in other countries. In all these branches of manufacture there are two distinct elements which combine to produce success. One is the intellectual invention of the design, the other the cost of the mechanical process by which it is to be applied to the cloth. In the latter of these England is unrivalled. From our mechanical skill, our command of machinery, skill, labour, and power, we can excel all the rest of the world in cheapness of production; but in the other department, in elegance of design, the artists and artizans of France are immeasureably our superiors. In goods of a medium description, where durability and economy are the sole considerations, we supply all the markets of the world, but where elegance is to be sought after, the productions of France, even at double or treble the price of ours, find a steady demand in preference to our own, and are in request in every country in Europe, where there exist taste to appreciate, and money to purchase them. If, then, to cheapness of production, in which we already outrival France, we can add that excellence of design in which she so far outrivals us, we should be enabled, without fear of competition, to enter every market from which British manufactures were not 678 excluded by actual prohibition. But the present state of the law, so far from encouraging artists to apply their genius to the improvement of our manufactures, gives them every practical discouragement, and the result is manifested in their admitted inferiority in all the arts of design as compared with their continental rivals. Not only are artists of high talent unemployed in these pursuits in Great Britain, because the manufacturer, conscious of the ruinous risk which he runs, is afraid to encounter the expense of retaining them in his service, but actually, in instances in which their services have been offered gratuitously, the manufacturer has been compelled to decline accepting them, on the ground, that after incurring a more than usual expense to do justice to their designs in producing them, their superior beauty would only operate as a temptation to the pirate to invade them. Mr. Thomson, of Primrose, in Lancashire, who has been by acclamation admitted to be the first printer in England, in a letter which he has addressed on the subject to the right hon. Baronet at the head of her Majesty's Government, states that, some years ago he was strongly inclined to attempt a particular style in printed furnitures, in which he was disposed to employ the designs of a royal academician, engraved by one of the first artists of the day. But, on conferring with the trade, he was dissuaded from the experiment, as the outlay would have been considerable, the time occupied in its production great, and the period of copyright to cover a sale only three months, after which the whole host of copyists would have been let loose on the patterns, and his remuneration would be lost. Mr. Apple-gath, of Crayford, in Kent, another most ingenious and successful printer, stated to the committee of 1840, that some time before he had been offered designs for hangings of rooms by Sir David Wilkie and by Mr. Sydney Smirke, the eminent architect, consisting of arabesques and medallions in panel, in imitation of Italian interiors, but he was compelled to refuse them, as it would have been of no use to attempt their production, only to have them copied and vulgarized by the pirate before they could have repaid him for his original outlay; and he added, that if sufficient protection were given to him, by extending the copyright, he would at once produce not only these designs, but attempt new branches of art which had never hitherto been introduced in this country, and employ artists 679 of the first eminence in their designing and execution. But under the present law he had neither encouragement nor remuneration to attempt anything beyond the ordinary and medium description of designs. One effect which has followed as the natural consequence of thus discouraging the ambition of the artists of this country has been to make us not only dependent upon France for the finer articles of manufacture, but even to make us dependent upon her for the very designs which we employ for the decoration of our own. Not only are our printers driven to copy largely from the goods produced on the continent, but a regular trade has been created of exporting designs from Paris for the use of the printers of England; and many of the principal printers of Lancashire are regularly supplied with patterns from Paris, and some have designers there wholly employed in their services— a singular anomaly in manufactures for a country to be actually dependent on its most dangerous rivals for the supply of an article in which it has afterwards to compete with them. But another and most serious disadvantage produced by this system is its effect upon the character and estimation of British goods in foreign markets, where their reputation has suffered incalculably by the copyist, in order to undersell the original producer, sending out his piracies in fugitive colours and upon inferior cloth, instead of in the superior colours, and on the same fine cloth as that he copies from; and foreigners have thus been deterred by the fear of deception from purchasing British printed goods, but take in preference those of France, where each printer is compelled not only to produce his own designs, but, from a regard to his reputation, is constrained to produce them in the most creditable style,—an obligation from which the pirate is exempt, as he has no reputation of his own to uphold, and subsists solely by lowering that of his neighbours. For all those evils which he had been pointing out the remedy in the bill now under consideration would be instant and effectual—it would give the proprietor of a design such an interest in its property as would make him vigilant in its protection; and, by giving him, for a moderate period, an undisputed right to its sale, it would encourage him to make such an outlay, and to employ such talent in its production, as would speedily improve the style and elevate the character of British goods in every market into which they en- 680 tered; and it would afford better payment and increased employment to designers when every manufacturer would be compelled to rely on the ingenuity of those in his own employment, instead of living upon the inventions of his neighbours. But another and an obvious necessity exists for rendering the existing copyright effective, in order to give effect to the expenditure which the Government are now so laudably making for the establishment and extension of schools of design throughout the kingdom. In order to induce an individual to resort for education to one of these admirable institutions, which we have borrowed from the French, you must hold out to him some assurance of being protected in the exercise of his profession when that education is complete. At present no such assurance can be given, and it is in evidence that the schools of design are neglected to a considerable extent in consequence. Mr. Holdway, who is teacher of a school of design at Edinburgh, stated to the committee of 1840, that the institution was partially unsuccessful hitherto, because parents are reluctant to send their children to be trained as designers, from the uncertainty of finding steady employment for them when qualified to seek it; and Mr. Henry, the eminent calico printer of Dublin, whose sufferings from piracy he had already alluded to, stated in the same committee, that being willing to take a number of boys into his works, and to have them instructed under his own designers, their parents had objected, and entreated to have them taught any other branch in preference, as they understood that all that was wanted in Manchester was a person who could copy other men's designs, but there was no certain demand for artists who could invent for themselves. If, then, you wish to see schools of design successful—if you wish to train up in England a race of English artists and English designers, it is indispensible to establish an effectual copyright —first, to give them some property in the productions of their own genius; and, secondly, to give the manufacturers of this country some encouragement and security to induce them to employ and to remunerate them. He had thus enumerated the principal advantages which he anticipated from the amendment of the law which he had suggested; but they were by no means the whole, since there was scarcely a process or an operation of the trade which would not be more or less affected by it. But having so long trespassed upon the in- 681 dulgence of the House in dwelling on the advantages of the measure, he would not further presume upon their patience by anticipating the objections which might be expected to be made to it. These its opponents had themselves narrowed to a very circumscribed number, and whatever apprehension they might have at one time felt for the measure as regarded the home trade and its economy, they had now abandoned them all, and professed that their only fear was for the effect which an extension of the copyright might have upon our foreign export. Their argument was this—that although at the present moment there is no law nor any possible means of prohibiting a foreign calico printer from copying an English design, he is practically restrained from doing so by the knowledge that at the expiration of three months the English copyists will be at liberty to export their imitations to his market, but that if the law be so altered as to restrain the English copyist for nine months instead of three, that then our American, German, Swiss, and Belgian, and other rivals, will copy our English patterns for themselves; and thus, to a certain extent, deprive this country of the trade. He believed he stated this very plausible argument with perfect fairness, but it was based upon two most palpable fallacies, which were each easily disposed of. A foreign printer could be induced to copy an English design only by one of two considerations—either that it was a more beautiful one than his own, or that, although less beautiful, he could reproduce it more cheaply than it could be furnished from England. But English designs were admitted on all hands to be so inferior to French, that they were unsaleable in competition with them; and so conscious were the English manufacturers of their inferiority, that they are compelled to copy French designs, in order to make up for the deficiency of their own. What possible object, then, could a continental printer have in copying our inferior patterns? or, what would be more absurd still, in copying our copies of his own? On this ground, then, the argument is unsound. But then it is rejoined, that it is not for these exquisite and elegant designs, which are exclusively consumed by the rich, that any apprehension is felt; but that the danger is for the medium and homely articles, which England now exports in such prodigious quantities for the use of the middle classes in Germany and 682 elsewhere; and that the Germans and Americans and Belgians, despairing of getting these from the English copyist, will reproduce them for themselves, and not only supply their own population, but undermine and undersell us in neutral markets. This argument turns upon the simple question, as economy is here the leading consideration, can the Belgians and Germans, and our other rivals, produce these so cheaply as ourselves? and this inquiry is abundantly satisfied, first, by a reference to their own consciousness of their power to compete with us, as evidenced by their tariffs; and secondly, by the returns of the vast quantities of printed cottons which, in spite of these tariffs, we annually pour into their markets. Now, there are three of the most powerful countries of Europe from which our English calicoes are absolutely prohibited from entering for consumption, namely, France, Russia, and Austria. How absurd would be this prohibition, if those countries felt they could reproduce our goods cheaper than ourselves, and undersell us in their own markets? On the contrary, the consciousness of that inability and of the danger of admitting our goods upon any terms, has compelled them to resort to this indefensible expedient of absolute prohibition and exclusion. But then another quarter in which this danger is apprehended is Prussia, and the states of the German League; but what is the condition of those states as regards this branch of trade? So apprehensive are they of English competition, that throughout all Germany the duty imposed by the tariff of the Zollverein on English printed cottons is fifty dollars, or about 7l. 10s. per cwt., which on medium English goods, worth from 14S to 15s. per piece, would amount to 6s. each, or upwards of 60 per cent. Yet, in spite of this all but prohibitory duty, our exports to Germany are not only immense, but increasing, and for many years past would on an average amount to no less than 26,000,000 of yards. Surely no serious competition is to be expected from states which, in spite of these duties of 60 per cent, we can thus compel to resort to us for their economical supplies. Again, Belgium has been quoted as a country in which competition is to be apprehended, and some most absurd details have been gone into in proof of it, the utter fallacy of which he would not take up the time of the House by exposing; but the facts connected with its tariff, and its imports of English goods would sufficiently 683 demonstrate the groundlessness of any alarm from Belgian rivalry. The duty imposed by the Belgian tariff amounts to between 25 and 30 per cent. on English medium goods, and yet the amount imported year by year, through the customhouses alone, exceeds 2,500,000 yards; exclusively of prodigious quantities introduced by contraband across the frontier of Holland. And so far from being able to compete with England, all their printers concur that their cost of production is at least 25 per cent. greater than that of England, which, added to their duty, would make a difference of 50 per cent. in the value of the respective productions of the two countries. As to America, to which we have been in the habit of exporting so largely, the advantage at which we do so, and the little danger which exists of her taking the trade into her own hands by copying our patterns, must be pretty apparent when he told the House that on English goods the present American tariff exacts a duty amounting, with charges, to at least 70 per cent., and that in spite of it all we send her annually cotton goods to the enormous amount of upwards of 35,000,000 yards. These ate the chief producing countries of printed goods in the world, and he hoped he had satisfied the House that there existed but little danger of their copying our designs, which were, unfortunately, so far inferior to their own, or of their attempting to take the supply out of our hands, when they could only expect to supply themselves at an increased cost of at least 50 per cent. above the ordinary cost of production in England as compared with themselves. From foreign competition he stated distinctly and advisedly this country has nothing to apprehend if she will be but just to herself, and give, not protection against foreigners, but security to her own artists and artisans against injustice from their own rivals at home. He had only to conclude by thanking the House for the indulgent patience with which they had heard his statement; he had taken this matter up, not as a manufacturer's question, nor a retailer's, nor an exporter's, but as one of national importance, and involving the future prosperity of almost every branch of our national manufactures. These were encumbered and injured by a specific defect, for which he had suggested a specific remedy, and one which he believed would remove the evil complained of. That remedy had been found effectual in other countries, 684 and in other branches in trade in this; an extended copyright had raised the manufactures of France to their present point of excellence; it had been found equally successful in the higher branches of art in England, and his object was to see art, as applied to industry and manufactures, equally honoured and equally encouraged as when exerted for the gratification of abstract taste and the purposes of unproductive luxury. He moved that the bill be now read a second time.
§ Mr. W. Williams
had been a member of the committee instituted to inquire into the question, and after considerable attention he had arrived at a conclusion totally opposite to that which the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had come to. It was rather a remarkable fact, that the hon. Member had allowed two years to elapse between the sitting of the committee and the introduction of the present measure; and he should have inferred there from, that the hon. Member thought an alteration in the law not much required. The committees named by hon. Members, it was notorious, were usually constituted with a majority in favour of the views of the proposers. That which sat on the subject before the House, was, in the first instance, favourable to the hon. Member's views, but after sitting thirty-four days, they divided equally, and the hon. Member's own vote carried the report of the committee. One hon. Member of the committee had never been present while the evidence was taken, and only came down when his vote was required in furtherance of the hon. Gentleman's views. It had been stated by experienced witnesses, that there was no such thing as originality in design—that old patterns were perpetually recombined and reproduced. The measure then would be productive of nothing but endless litigation and constant disputes. First, a question in dispute might be referred to two magistrates who could impose penalties between 5l. and 30l Next, the party might bring his action for damages. Then the Court of Chancery might be appealed to in a suit which might last twenty-one years—all about, what, perhaps, was not worth 2s. 6d. The fact was, that originality of invention may be said to have been exhausted, and the production of original new designs could hardly be expected. The great requisite in the calico-printing business was cheapness. Mr. Henry, of Dublin, who had been the 685 cause of the introduction of this bill, had himself adopted for many years the copying system, because he saved the expense of keeping his own pattern drawers, and he also saved in the cost of engraving his rollers for printing, together not less than 1,000l. or 1,200l. a-year. It had answered Mr. Henry's purpose to copy, as had been stated, in the early part of his career in business, but subsequently he adopted the system of producing his own designs, and now he wanted to have the extended copyright. Where was the morality or honesty of copying from foreigners any more than in copying from our own countrymen? The whole system of pattern making was not the forming patterns on original ideas, but the combining them from existing designs. The passing of such a measure as this would create a system of copying English patterns on the part of foreigners, and establishments would be formed in foreign countries for that express purpose. At present the trade in this country principally depended upon the perpetual production of new patterns, as a large manufacturer had stated. There was no truth in the representation of the extent to which competition was carried by France, which did not produce one-third of the quantity manufactured in this country, and the superiority of France in designing was entirely to be attributed to the establishment of schools of design by the Government. From the evidence to which he had so often referred, it appeared, that one manufacturer, who produced as many as 500 patterns annually, had only one of that number copied. On the various grounds, then, which he had stated to the 'House, he was prepared to contend, that they could obtain no exact information as to what did and what did not constitute an original pattern; for it clearly appeared, that practical men did not know, as they stated, the whole system of designing what were called new patterns was only a new arrangement of objects taken from old patterns. He apprehended, more over, that the bill as it then stood would give rise to endless litigation, and, in his judgment, it was not possible for that House to act upon a principle more injurious to the well being of trade than the principle of interference. The persons who Were themselves engaged in trade must be the best judges of their own interest, and they were at all times opposed to interference. The late Sir Robert Peel was long a Member of that House, and natu- 686 rally possessed great influence, yet he never thought of proposing any such measure. Other eminent men connected with the trade possessed similar opportunities, but never thought of taking advantage of them for such purposes. He believed there were not twenty Members in that House who possessed the knowledge requisite to legislate on the subject before them. Surely the House would pause before they adopted such a change, unless a very strong case were made out, and the case laid before the committee was anything but a strong case. For his part, he had resolved to oppose the measure to the utmost of his power.
§ Lord F. Egerton
observed, that no matter by whom the proposition had been originated, the adoption would be, he was sure, received as a great public benefit. He entertained much respect for the opinions of those who were practically engaged in the business which the proposed measure was intended to affect; and representing, as he did, a county in which there were so many manufacturers, he should feel bound to defer to the opinions of his constituents, if they were unanimous, or even nearly so, in opposing the views which he entertained. He found, out of 179 firms, there were only 36 opposed to the bill, either in its principles or its details. In Manchester, 48 firms were favourable, and only 36 adverse. The superiority of France, in the art of design, was universally acknowledged, and that superiority must clearly proceed, in part, at least, from the superior education which the French received. It was an interesting fact, that the present Government had resolved to devote a considerable sum to the purposes of education, and that they proposed to assign to Manchester some portion of the sum to be so applied. They intended, of course, to act upon the wise principle of not giving more than an amount equal to that raised from local sources. Now, he could not doubt, that the people of Manchester would readily agree to raise a sum of 150l. a-year. He therefore, would give his support to the bill, and was confirmed in doing so, by having received letters from several manufacturers showing the great necessity that existed for the protection which this measure was intended to afford.
was in favour of the principle of extending the period of copyright, but not to so long a period as nine months. He thought six months would be suffi- 687 cient. He thought it very questionable whether the machinery of registration would be found to work in a satisfactory manner. No doubt, as far as was consistent with the public interest, the period of protection ought to be extended; but in a speech made by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, on the 5th of February, 1840, the right hon. Baronet had urged the necessity of having the evidence of some practical men on the subject, adding, that he found great difficulty in saying whether there ought to be an extension, and also in saying, what that period ought to be. Now, certainly he derived very little information from the committee. The hon. Member for Belfast said, that Ireland was unanimous. Very probably so, seeing there was only one firm to express its opinion, Manchester, however, was the place they must go to. There he found forty-eight firms for the extension, and thirty-six against it. That was, at all events, a considerable minority, and one that ought to be taken into account, though he admitted that their opinion was not conclusive. Mr. Potter, a witness referred to by the hon. Member for Coventry, was in favour of the principle of extension; and yet Mr. Potter admitted, that the majority of the greatest producers were opposed to it. [The right hon. Gentleman read extracts from the evidence of Mr. Potter and of other witnesses before the committee, to show, that the great producers were generally opposed to the extension of the copyright, while the producers of the finer descriptions of goods were in favour of it.] Another class, whose interests were deserving of consideration, were the retailers. If the present bill were carried, a bill of injunction, with all its attendant expenses, would lie not only against the original pirate, but also against some hundreds of retailers. This was a strong motive for retailers to oppose the bill, and accordingly he was not surprised to find that almost all the retailers of Manchester were against it. [Mr. E.Tennent: "No. no!"] The hon. Gentleman seemed to think he had misstated the fact, but he would refer him to the evidence of Mr. Kershaw, to show, that the retailers were opposed to the measure.
Mr. E. Tennent
said, he had not attributed any misstatement to the right hon. Gentleman, but he would refer him to the petitions on the Table from retailers in support of the bill.
§ Mr. Sheil
said, that the evidence before the committee bore out his view of the case; still that would certainly be a very insufficient ground for refusing the extension. An unfair attack had been made upon Mr. Lucas. That gentleman never took goods that had been copied till the three months fixed by law had passed, and therefore he ought not to be called a pirate. Supposing the present bill was passed, it would surely be unfair to describe those as pirates who adopted the designs of others after the extended period of protection had expired. The present law had been made perpetual in 1794, and since then there had been no change, and yet trade had prospered in a remarkable degree. But if there must be an extension, six months would be sufficient. There was evidence to prove, that six months would be amply sufficient for the home market, and for the Dutch, German, and Belgian markets, though perhaps not sufficient for the Italian market; but if six months sufficed for the home market, and for so many of the most important foreign markets, he thought they ought to pause before they granted more. He had three reasons for withholding his consent from the extension now asked for. In the first place, it would put a restraint on English copyists, but not on foreign copyists; it would give a monopoly to English inventors in the home market, but would lay no restraint on French and German copyists. In the next place, by enhancing the value of a copyright, it would furnish additional incentives to piracy, and by making a copyright worth litigating, the foundation would be laid for an immense deal of litigation. In the third place, an extension to nine months would materially affect the facility with which mercantile operations ought to be carried on. The right hon. Member for Tamworth had expressed a doubt of the policy of registration, and he entertained the same doubt. The system was to be borrowed from France; but in France there were fifty-eight officers for registration, while in England it was proposed to have only one. Now, there were individual manufacturers who produced 500 designs in a year. Were they all to be registered? He doubted also very much whether the registering officer was a fit person to decide whether a design was original or not. It was not to the extended protection to designs that France was indebted for her superiority in 689 that respect, but to her splendid collection of the fine arts, and to the free admission of the public to those collections. By those collections the public taste was cultivated, and a sense of the beautiful diffused. Still the manufactures of this country had prospered; but their extension had been owing, not to the beauty of designs, but to the cheapness of the fabric; and they ought to be careful not to endanger the commerce of the country by doing any thing to lessen that cheapness.
§ Dr. Bowring
did not object to the object of this bill; but he thought it would prove inefficient to accomplish the purpose for which it was designed. The aim of the bill was to protect inventions in design, but the bill did not define what should be considered inventions. It was proposed by this measure to vest the right of adjudication in cases of dispute as to the infringement of designs injustices of the peace, who, he conceived, were certainly not the best qualified judges to decide on such a subject. In France the decision of such questions was committed to a council of prud'-hommes, which sat daily, and redress was easily obtained, and the working of the system was most efficient. If the hon. Gentleman who proposed this bill would endeavour to create a proper tribunal to decide upon what really were inventions in designs—if he could appoint an economical and efficient system of registration, and establish an easy and effectual mode of obtaining redress when designs had been pirated, he would confer great benefit on society. The present bill, he feared, would only lead to litigation and embarrassment, and would fail to effect the object which it was the design of the hon. Gentleman to accomplish.
§ Mr. Mark Philips
said, that in considering the subject, he was actuated only by a desire to come to a sound and just conclusion. He thought there was a great deal of difficulty as to the definition of what was really an original design, for a person went to Paris and purchased a design, and then entering it in this country as an original design, would have it protected as an original. He had in his possession a pattern which was purchased in Paris by a Manchester house, and almost at the same time another Manchester house purchased the same pattern in Paris from other parties, and one of those houses was about to publish it, until they heard accidentally that it was in the hands of 690 another house in Manchester. Was there any security that if individuals without large capital purchased a pattern unwittingly under such circumstances, they might not be deterred from using it by the dread of proceedings against them, although they purchased the design in ignorance of the circumstances? It appeared to him that, when persons talked so much about piracy, they ought to state designs were frequently selected in France and entered in this country as original designs. He thought that an international copyright was a measure which ought to precede this, in order to render it efficient. With reference to the greater facility of production of design in France than in this country, he was of opinion that one cause which greatly tended to that advantage, was the more enlightened course which the French government adopted in giving the people access to works of art, whereas in this country all our public institutions were almost inaccessible to the people, though he would admit that considerable improvements had been effected in that respect. With respect to the duration of the copyright of a design, it should be recollected that novelty was the great recommendation to the public taste in those articles of manufacture which were concerned in any measure having relation to the subject under their consideration. He thought that three months' protection would be quite sufficient to protect the copyright in designs throughout one season. So far as his own opinion was concerned, it appeared to him that a copyright of three months' was enough; but he would consent to an extension to six months, and farther than that he would not consent to go.
understood that the effect of the short term of copyright was to cause the manufacturer to charge a higher price than he would have occasion to do if he were secured the remuneration which a longer term of copyright would afford him. His object in rising was, to urge on the House a greater protection of the copyright of designs in the manufacture of carpets than was at present afforded. The designs for carpets were very expensive; and to produce the first yard of carpet in the loom cost a price ranging frem 5l. to 14l. The manufacturer was put to great expense and trouble to produce his design, and it was very hard that another person should be allowed to pirate his design and undersell him, and subject 691 him to the odium of charging a higher price than the individual, who, by means of pirating his design, was enabled to undersell him. He had been assured that the present term of twelve months' protection to this description of copyright was not sufficient, and that no period less than three years would afford a fair and just protection to this branch of manufacture.
§ Mr. Morrison
said, the subject now under discussion was full of difficulties, and called for great caution in legislating upon it. One of the difficulties arose from the fact, that all or the greater part of the designs printed in this country were bought in France. The hon. Member for Manchester had stated one instance of the same identical pattern having been sold to two different houses, and he knew an instance of the same pattern being sold to four different parties. He, however, did not see how the manufacturers of this country could improve on designs unless some moderate protection was afforded them. In cheapness and quality we had a decided advantage in our productions over all other nations; but he thought we could not maintain this position, unless an alteration were made in the law of copyright of designs. He did not think our foreign trade would be injured by it. It had been stated that its effect would be to prevent novelty; but the existence of this protection in France did not prevent novelty there.
§ Mr. J. Heathcoat
said the hon. Member for Belfast had not considered how his measure was to be carried out. The machinery of the bill was defective. The Bill would afford no protection against fraudulent registration. His own experience made him fear that it would not prevent such fraud. The country being so much dependent on France for articles of fashion, collision might exist between persons at home and in that country, by which patterns brought from Paris might appear in England at a time when they would be passed off as original. The certificate was prima facie evidence of originality, and how could the English shopkeeper go over to France to prove that patterns which he may have purchased were not original? Besides, as there was nothing new under the sun, old forgotten designs might be passed off as new ones. There was another objection, that persons in this country did not know what was 692 registered; but in France that was not the case. Many of the evils, with regard to piracy of designs, were almost incurable; but he should be ready to support any measure which appeared to him likely to remedy them, and he should not be amongst those who would deny fair protection.
§ Mr. Brotherton
thought, no sufficient reason had been given for making any alteration in the law. The object of the bill was to increase the profits of the printer, and it would not make prints cheaper. Old patterns would be kept before the public. He was assured that the bill would promote litigation, and give rise to much oppression. He implored the House to proceed very cautiously in establishing these monopolies. The present system effectually benefitted both the printers and the public.
§ Mr. Henley
said, that though from the excessive clumsy machinery of the bill no man could be convicted of anything under it, as it threw on the plaintiff or defendant the onus of proving or disproving a negative knowledge; still the shopkeeper might be put to great loss and annoyance by these provisions. He could be brought up before a magistrate, and have to employ counsel and attorneys to defend him in any action that might be brought against him. If a man expended 150l. on pirated goods, he never could sell them, because, though the copyright was only for twelve months, it existed for ever so far as the shopkeeper was concerned. If no other Member took the matter up, he should oppose the faults of the bill in committee.
§ Mr. Gladstone
rose to say but very few words on a subject which had already undergone so protracted a discussion. His hon. Friend had been desirous in committee of offering some explanatory statement as to the statistics of the trade, as to the comparative importance of the firms engaged in the trade for and against the measure. His noble Friend, the Member for South Lancashire, had stated, that out of 179 firms engaged in this trade, thirty-six only were against a measure of this description; but it had been stated in evidence given before the committee that those thirty-six, with respect to the quantity of goods printed, were greater producers of the article than the whole remaining number of printers. That statement was quite erroneous. Out of 16,000 printing tables 693 only 2,319 belonged to the opposers of this measure. Gut of 43,000 men employed only 7,400 were employed by those who were against the measure. Out of 16,000,000 of pieces printed. only 4,500,000 were printed by those who opposed this bill. Unless these figures could be successfully impugned, it was certain that the general sense of the trade was in favour of the measure. With respect to the objections which had been made to this bill, they were divided into two classes. One class of objectors were opposed to any legislation on the subject; the other class objected to the mode of registration; but he thought that was a matter which would be more properly attended to in committee. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sheil had estimated the number of designs which would be registered every year at the enormous amount of half a million. [Mr. Sheil, "No."] Well, then, he was mistaken, and the right hon. Gentleman, he trusted, had discarded this ground of objection. It might be that some thousand designs would have to be registered every year, and that in consequence a more efficient organization of the register-office might be needed; but this was no objection to the bill. The right hon. Gentleman had objected to the certificate of the registering officer being made admissible as evidence in courts of law; but it was admissible only as prima facie evidence, and it would be perfectly competent to any party to bring an action at law to show that the certificated design was an old one, in which case the certificate would be overruled by direct evidence, and the party adducing it would be cast. But the position of the retail dealers would be altered, the right hon. Gentleman insisted, by this bill, and the mode and manner of bringing these parties to account had been much objected to. But was the right hon. Gentleman aware of the clause to the same effect in the existing law? There was no additional severity, but, on the contrary, somewhat of relaxation in the mode of bringing these parties to account, as compared with the act of the 2nd of Victoria. Another objection was, that two parties might purchase the same invention—that one might register, and the other being a bonâ fide purchaser, might be treated as a pirate. This certainly was a possible case, which might occur under this bill; but so it might occur under the existing law, or under any law of patents, and he must be permitted to say, that when it did occur, it must be owing, in a great measure, to the negli- 694 gence of the parties themselves. It was material that the House should observe, that the great objection, after all, was the fear that the measure would be injurious to foreign trade. But he should expect a judicious law of copyrights of designs to benefit materially, not only the foreign, but the home trade also, by stimulatiug the genius of inventors, and so stimulating commerce. It had been said, they ought to rely, not on a copyright-law, but on schools of design, for the extension of taste. He, for one, should like to see schools of design flourishing; but though it was all very well to establish schools of design, and thereby create a race of good inventors, yet, if you did not also give those inventors, when educated, the means of obtaining a livelihood by some such measure as this, the institution of schools of design would be nugatory. This difficulty had already been experienced in the matter of primary education. It is vain to found normal schools, unless you have the means of retaining by sufficient remuneration those who may be trained in them. Seeing, then, that the objections were either minute or unfounded, and that the bill came before them under the recommendation of a committee, he trusted that the second reading would obtain the unanimous consent of the House.
§ Bill read a second time, and ordered to be committed.