The History of Leith

October 24, 2012

Perpetual exclusive right

In 1748, says Kincaid, a very remarkable and
lawless attempt was made by the united London
booksellers and stationers to curb the increase of
literature in Edinburgh ! They had conceived an
Idea, which they wished passed into law: ” That
authors or their assignees had a perpetual exclusive
right to their works ; and if these could not be
known, the right was in the person who first published
the book, whatever manner of way they
became possessed of it.”
The first step was taken in 1748—twenty-three
years after Ramsay started his library—when an
action appeared before the Court of Session against
certain booksellers in Edinburgh and Glasgow,
which was decreed against the plaintiffs.* Ten

years after, a second plan was concerted in England,
by a cozenage trial, which might be adduced as a
precedent. The court thought proper to take the
opinion of the twelve judges in England, who
permitted the matter to drop without giving any;
but a third attempt was made to restrain a certain
Scotsman from trading as a bookseller in London.
For twelve years this man was harassed by successive
injunctions in Chancery, for printing books
which were not protected by the 8th of Queen
Anne, cap. 19, and the Court of Queen’s Bench
decided against the Scotsman (Miller v. Taylor),
and then the London trade applied once more to the
Court of Session to have it made law in Scotland.
This prosecution was brought by Hinton, a bookseller,
against the well-known Alexander Donaldson,
then in London, to restrain him from publishing
” Stackhouse’s History of the Bible.” He was subjected
to great annoyance, yet he supported himself
against nearly the entire trade in London’, and
obtained a decree which was of the greatest importance
to the booksellers in Scotland.

source-Old and New Edinburgh

Some Text