Professor Michael Gamer (U Pennsylvania) has alerted me to an error in my recent article “The Cento, Romanticism, and Copyright” (ESC 38.2 ). My claim that “the statutory copyright term was doubled” in 1808 (74) is taken from William St Clair’s The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period (2004). Dr. Gamer points out that “the bill introduced in 1808 was read twice in Parliament but then – or so I’ve long thought – never passed,” and has referred me to
a synthetic summarizing essay by Ronan Deazley … “Commentary on Copyright Act 1814,” Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900). Deazley starts the narrative of the aborted 1808 and successful 1814 Copyright acts with Basil Montague, who in 1804 found in the Cambridge University Library only a 5% deposit rate for books published in 1803. He concluded that booksellers had effectively ceased depositing new books after a 1798 legal case, Beckford v. Hood, had raised questions about whether the deposit requirement could be enforced. This raised a bit of a fire storm that led to the 1808 bill, but questions arose during debate and it was tabled.
I am grateful to Dr. Gamer for contacting me about the error.
Gamer, Michael. E-mails to author. 28 Jun. 2013.