Next in sequence comes the Sculpture Act of
1814. This is without doubt the best of all existing
art laws : the favourable nature of its framing is
chiefly due to the influence of a sculptor, viz.,
Chantrey, that benefactor to his fellow-artists. By
it a sculptor obtains copyright for fourteen years in
each work, and if at the end of this term he is still
alive, the copyright is made by this Act to remain
to him for a further fourteen years.
Signing and dating work is compulsory.
Transfers of copyright have to be in writing,
signed, with two or more witnesses.
The weak point is that sculpture appears not to
be protected against copies on the fiat, i.e., by
painting, drawing, engraving, and photography.
In 1862 painting, drawing, and photography
were accorded copyright protection.
This Act is the most unsatisfactory of all exist-
ing fine art laws, and it alone amply justifies a
vigorous appeal from artists for an amended artistic
By this Act, the author of every original painting,
drawing, and photograph is apparently intended to
enjoy copyright for life and seven years in his
Signing and dating works is not necessary, but
registration at Stationers' Hall is compulsory; not
only the registration of transfers of copyright, but
registration of ownership by the author himself.
Transfers have to be in writing. With works on
commission, the copyright is the property of the
giver of commission.
The great grievance is the badly worded main
clause, whereby the safety of the copyright is all
made dependent upon a specific document being
created before or at the time of the first sale of
the work itself.
Please remember that in a work of fine art (and
this is where our work differs so much from the
literary man's) there are two distinct properties:
1. The work itself as such; 2. The copyright,
or the source for endless and various reproduc-
tions. Now this Act, professing to deal only with
the second property—copyright—illogically makes
the very existence of that copyright pendent upon
a dealing with the first property—the work itself.
Although this Act applies equally to drawings and
photographs, let me take a picture as an example
of its application. If, when selling a picture, the
author intends to include the copyright in the
transaction, he, the author, must, at or before the
sale, sign and give to the purchaser a document
stating that copyright passes to the buyer. If, how-
ever, the author at the first sale of the picture wishes
to reserve copyright, it is useless to write any such
reservation himself; he must obtain the buyer's
signature to a document reserving copyright to the
author. Where no such specifically signed docu-
ment is made, one way or the other, at or before
the sale, copyright lapses,—is lost ! It is a terrible
state of affairs, for by it I am sure I can truly say
that very few existing pictures have any copyright
remaining. This is unsatisfactory both for author
By this Act the architect and designer get pro-
tection to their drawings as such.
The last and only other law affecting any class
of art-workers is "The Patents, Designs, and
Trade Marks Act " of 1883.
When designs become applied to articles of
manufacture, then the interests of others besides
the artist arise. Such things are not made and
sold primarily as works of art; utility is the first
consideration, beauty a minor one; consequently
they come under another class of law, and the pro-
tection accorded is less, being for five years from
the date of registration; such registration under
various classes is necessary.
This last Act we make no proposal of changing.
I have not spoken of International Copyright,
as our Bill does not propose to deal with it.
That is a rough sketch of the existing artistic laws.
Now for our proposed Bill whereby all fine art
laws will be consolidated and all existing Acts
repealed (excepting " The Patents, Designs, and
Trades Marks Act," 1883).
I will first put down the main principles of our
Bill, and then I will proceed to offer explanation
upon each in turn.
1. That copyright in an original work of fine
art is to date from the commencement of the
execution thereof, and shall last for the life of the
author and thirty years after his death.
(" Original work of fine art " is defined to mean
" a work of fine art made by a person from or
according to his own original design.")
2. That copyright in a work of fine art made
from the design of another, in a cast, from nature,
and in a photograph, shall date from registration
and last for thirty years.
3. That copyright in works of fine art shall
belong to the author until expressly assigned.
4. That registration of copyright and of all deal-
ings therewith shall be compulsory, except in the
case of the author of an original work of fine art.
5. That all original works of fine art are, irre-
spective of class, dealt with upon the same basis.
Re principle 1 : (a) Life and thirty years is the