Donaldson v. Beckett: Changes in Copyright

(266 words)
  • Editors

Historical Context Note

Although the 1710 Act for the Encouragement of Learning ( 8 Ann. C19) had established that an author's copyright expired at the end of 14 years, judges had tended to uphold the rights of publishers and authors to perpetual copyright if they took the matter to court. In 1768 Andrew Millar, who had been publishing Thomson's The Seasons since 1729, sued Robert Taylor for infringement of his copyright. (Thomson's right was not an issue since he had died in 1748). Millar was represented by William Blackstone, the most distinguished lawyer of his day, and John Dunning. Lord Mansfield's judgement in “Millar v. Taylor” held that Thomson and his publisher retained property rights to the fruits of their labour under Common Law …

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Editors. "Donaldson v. Beckett: Changes in Copyright". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 14 April 2005
[, accessed 26 September 2016.]