HC Deb 17 February 1887 vol 310 cc1774-5
MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether his attention has been called to a paragraph appearing in The Gazette of November 23rd, 1886, issued by the authority of Her Majesty's Stationery Office, and referring to the enforcement of an alleged copyright in Government publications—

Extract from GazettePrinters and publishers are reminded that any one reprinting, without due authority, matter which has appeared in any Government publication, renders himself liable to the same penalties as those which he might, under like circumstances, have incurred had the copyright been in private hands. T. Digby Pigott, Controller. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, Westminster, November 22, 1886. what is the scope and object of the announcement in question; whether it is intended to interfere with the right of any member of the public to reprint documents prepared and printed at the public expense; if so, under what Law does Her Majesty's Stationery Office propose to proceed; and, how far does Her Majesty's Government propose to support the Controller in this new departure?

THE FIRST LORD (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)

The Government issue numerous publications. In a great number of instances the information is given in order to be widely circulated, and in such instances the Government do not intend or wish to interfere with the action of private individuals; but in some cases the Government consider that the cost of publication should be recouped to the taxpayer by the sale of the work. This object would not be attained if private individuals were allowed to take advantage of Government work in order to undersell the Government. The Treasury propose that a Memorandum should be drawn up defining, as clearly as pos- sible, the cases in which the Government right should be asserted; and they are at present in communication with their Legal Advisers on the subject. I shall be happy to lay this Memorandum, in due time, upon the Table.