The Decision of the Court of Session, Upon the Question of Literary Property; In the Cause of John Hinton of London, Bookseller, Pursuer; Against Alexander Donaldson and James Wood, Booksellers in Edinburgh, and James Meurose, Bookseller in Kilmarnock, Defenders.
Place and Imprint: Edinburgh: Printed by James Donaldson, for Alexander Donaldson, and sold at his Shops [sic], and by all the Booksellers in Scotland, 1774.
Edition: First edition with "Shops" in the imprint, second issue with the catchword "Lord" on page iv; "comparatively" on page 34; etc.
Bibliographical References: Pottle 50 and see pages 98-101; Rothschild 450; ESTC T88998; NCBEL II, 1212.
Condition: Title-page skillfully repaired at the gutter; very good copy, enclosed in a chemise and quarter morocco slipcase.
Book ID: 28332
Physical Description4to, modern blue paper wrappers, 37 pages.
CommentsAn important literary copyright dispute between booksellers in England and Scotland, known as Hinton v. Donaldson, in which James Boswell and John MacLaurin represented the Edinburgh publisher Alexander Donaldson and his cohorts against claims by London publishers that he was violating their copyrights. Donaldson specialized in publishing inexpensive reprints of English books which he maintained were not protected by the Copyright Act of 1710. The London publishers argued that their copyright existed in perpetuity and that their works were being reprinted illegally. They won an initial ruling in the London Court of Chancery in 1769, and proceeded to the Scottish Court of Session to continue their case, where Boswell and MacLaurin argued for Donaldson. The Scottish Court, comprised of 15 judges, agreed 11 to one with the defendants, and their interestingly disparate opinions on copyright protection and law were compiled by Boswell and published to help Donaldson’s case as it was appealed in London. Contemporary annotation on one page; manuscript number "2" in the upper margin of the title-page; early ink ownership stamp of John Hope / Advocate on the title-page, which is probably John Hope (1794-1858), advocate and later judge in the court of session. See the ODNB.
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