HL Deb 05 June 1862 vol 167 cc395-7

said, that in accordance with what appeared to be the general feeling of their Lordships, he proposed to move that this Bill be referred to a Select Committee. He thought that would be the best mode of dealing with the complicated details of the question.


said, he would not oppose the reference to a Select Committee, but thought that the required amendments could have been made in the Bill in a Committee of the Whole House. He would suggest, however, that the Committee should consider whether, in giving new protection to painters and engravers, it would not be well to give similar protection to sculptors.


said, he approved the reference to a Select Committee, because he thought that before the Bill became law it would require to undergo very material alteration. At the same time he would venture to suggest the necessity for an inquiry into the law of artistic copyright generally, which appeared to him to be in an unsettled and unsatisfactory condition. This Bill only proposed to deal with drawings and paintings, leaving the question as concerned sculpture unchanged. He thought the existing law with regard to engravings and sculpture required amendment. The law of copyright affecting engravings depended upon an old Act of 1735, called "Hogarth's Act," which gave engravers a copyright in their works for fourteen years, afterwards extended to twenty-eight years. In order to obtain that privilege, however, it was requisite that each engraving should bear the name of the engraver and the date of the first publication, which requirement was, of course, not fulfilled in the case of artists' proofs and proofs before letters. As the term of copyright in engravings was not the same as that of literary copyright, in the case of engravings illustrating a work a question arose whether the engravings were governed by the Literary Copyright Act. Under the Literary Copyright Act, no preliminary conditions were prescribed, and copyright was given to the author during his life, and for seven years afterwards; or for a total period of forty-two years, if his life should not extend to that period. But engravings published in illustrated works did not fall within the terms of the Literary Copyright Act, and therefore they were governed by the Engravings Act, which only gave a copyright of twenty-eight years, under certain conditions. In this Bill it was proposed to give to engravers a copyright during the author's life, and for seven years afterwards; but not to give the alternative period of forty-two years. Under the Designs Act, sculptors could register their works, and recover penalties in case of piracy; but the law in respect to sculpture differed from the law relating to painting and engravings. The result was an uncertain and incomplete state of things. He could not but think that it was desirable to establish the same law in reference to all artistic and literary productions. He thought, also, that the question of international copyright should be considered, together with the whole subject of domestic copyright, before they proceeded to fresh legislation; and he would suggest that a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the law of copyright in general, and that this Bill should be referred to that Committee.


said, he believed his noble Friend the President of the Council had exercised a very wise discretion in referring the Bill to a Select Committee. He believed that the Bill pushed the principle of protection to a most extravagant point. He should despair of making the measure a reasonable one in a Committee of the Whole House, but he hoped that in a Select Committee they would be able to give to it that character.


trusted that the inquiry before the Select Committee would be proceeded with immediately after the Whitsuntide recess; for he should consider it a great misfortune if the Bill, which had already received the assent of the other House, should, in consequence of any unnecessary delay, be dropped for the present Session.


was afraid, that if the Select Committee were to enter into the consideration of all the subjects adverted to by the noble and learned Lord (Lord Chelmsford), a great delay must take place.


said, that what he desired was, that the different laws with respect to artistic works should be assimilated.


said, he would endeavour to name the Committee before the House adjourned.

Order of the Day for the House to be put into a Committee on this Bill discharged; and Bill referred to a Select Committee:

The Lords following were named of the Committee; the Committee to meet on Monday the 16th instant, at Four o'Clock, and to appoint their own Chairman:

Ld. Chancellor. E. Ellesmere.
Ld. President. Ld. Chamberlain.
Ld. Privy Seal. V. Hardinge.
M. Westminster. V. Stratford de Redcliffe.
Ld. Steward.
E. Derby. L. Overstone.
E. Stanhope. L. Cranworth.
E. Carnarvon. L. Wensleydale.
E. Grey. L. Chelmsford.
E. Sommers. L. Taunton.
E. Ellenborough.