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copyright in any book published before or after the passing of the act may, on payment of five shillings to the company's officer, make an entry in the registry book of — 1. The title of the book : 2. The time of its first publication : 3. The name and place of abode of its publisher : and 4. The name and place of abode of the proprietor of the copyright of the book, or of any portion of such copyright. (A form for this is given in a schedule to the act: see the statute in the Appendix). Pursuant to the same section, a proprietor so registered may assign the whole or part of his interest by entering in the book of registry, on payment of five shillings, such assignment, and the name and place of abode of the assignee, according to a form given also in the schedule to the act (see Appendix). An assignment so entered will be effectual in law to all intents and purposes whatsoever, without being subject to any stamp or duty, and it shall have the same force and effect as if the assignment had been made by deed.
Pursuant to the 14th section of the same statute, if any person feel aggrieved by an entry in the book of registry, he may apply to a superior court of law in term time, or to a judge in vacation, for an order that such entry be expunged or varied : upon such application the court or judge is to make an order for expunging, varying, or confirming the entry, either with or without costs; and on production of an order for expunging or varying, the officer of the Stationers' Company is to expunge or vary the entry according to the requisitions of the order.
REGISTRATION OF ENCYCLOPÆDIAS AND PERIODICALS. — The 19th section of the 5 & 6 Vict. c. 45. enacts that the proprietor of copyright in an encyclopædia, review, magazine, periodical work, or work published in a series of books or parts, shall have all the benefits of registration at Stationers' Hall, on entering in the book of registry - 1. The title of such encyclopædia or periodical. 2. The time of the first publication of its first volume, number, or part, or of the first number or volume published after the passing of this act. 3. The name and place of abode of the proprietor. 4. The name and place of abode of the publisher, when the publisher is not also the proprietor.
EFFECT OF REGISTRATION. - The 24th section of the 5 & 6 Vict. c. 45. enacts that no proprietor of copyright in a book first published after the passing of this act shall maintain any action or suit at law or in equity, or any summary proceeding, for infringement of his copyright, unless, before the commencement of such action, suit, or proceeding, he shall have made an entry of the book, pursuant to this act, at Stationers' Hall: provided always, and this should be particularly observed, that the omission to make such entry shall not affect the copyright in a book, but only the right to sue or proceed in respect of the infringement of that copyright. There is also another proviso, that nothing in this section shall prejudice the remedies given by the 3 & 4 W. 4. c. 15. to the proprietor of the sole right of representation of a dramatic piece, although he may have made no entry in the book of registry.
PENALTY FOR A FALSE Entry.-The 12th section of the 5 & 6 Vict. c. 45. makes it an indictable misdemeanor, punishable accordingly, for any person to wilfully make or cause to be made any false entry in the registry book of the Stationers' Company, or to wilfully produce or cause to be tendered in evidence any paper falsely purporting to be a copy of any entry in the registry book.
As to the registration of dramatic pieces, and musical compositions, see also under Dramatic and Musical Copyright.
TRANSMISSION OF LITERARY COPYRIGHT. The case of Power v. Walker, 3 Mau. & S. 7., is the leading decision, which declares it necessary that the assignment of a copyright must be in writing. The ruling in that case went upon the statute 8 Anne, c. 19., which does not expressly require the assignment of a copyright to be in writing, but enacts a penalty against a party printing a book without the consent of the proprietor first had in writing, signed in the presence of two or more witnesses. Lord Ellenborough there said, “ that the statute having required that the consent of the proprietor, in order to authorise the printing or reprinting of any book by any other person, shall be in writing, the conclusion from it seemed almost irresistible that the assignment must be also in writing; for if the licence, which is the lesser thing, must be in writing, à fortiori the assignment, which is the greater thing, must also be.” The grounds for this opinion are certainly not satisfactory; nevertheless, the courts have since adhered to it. It was recognised in Clementi v. Walker, 2 B. & C. 861.; and also in Barnett v. Glossop, 1 Bing. N. C. 633., where it was laid down that the defence of want of writing should be specially pleaded.
The 54 G. 3. c. 156., which immediately followed the case of Power v. Walker, and which extended the 8. Anne, c. 19., made a similar enactment as the former statute with regard to the licence being in writing, except that it omitted the necessity of the signature in the presence of two witnesses. The new act, the 5 & 6 Vict. c. 45., also requires the licence to be in writing; and it is therefore probable that the law upon this point will continue the same, with this exception, that, pursuant to the 13th section of the 5 & 6 Vict. c. 45., the proprietor of a registered copyright may, by an entry in the book of registry, assign his interest, or any portion of his interest, in such copyright, in a manner as valid, without being subject to · stamp or duty, as if that assignment had been made by deed.
A question, however, here suggests itself, whether at common law the transfer of a copyright, as a right to a thing incorporeal, should be not only in writing, but by deed. The two cases above cited, Power v. Walker, and Clementi v. Walker, which held that at least a transfer in writing was necessary, cannot be considered to have expressly decided that a writing not being a deed would be sufficient. In a recent case, that of De Pinna v. Polhill, 8 C. & P. 78., Tindal C. J. expresses an opinion that the agreement for the sale of a copyright must be by deed, though the point could not be raised on the state of the pleadings in that case. It would seem also that the framers of the 5 & 6 Vict. c. 45. had a notion of the necessity of a writing under seal, when, in the thirteenth section, they say that an assignment by entry in the register shall be as valid as if it had been made by deed.
It would therefore appear that where the original proprietor has not registered the book, or the transfer is not made in the manner provided by the thirteenth section of the statute, it would be highly advisable, if not absolutely requisite, that the assignment of a copyright, or any agreement relating to it, should be by deed. In many of the reported cases relating to copyright, it appears incidentally that the conveyance or contract was by deed.
GENERAL ASSIGNMENT. - In a case decided on the 54 G. 3. c. 156., it was held that by the author's general assignment of all his right in a work, the assignee had the benefit of the resulting term for the life of the author, when he survived the twenty-eight years from the day of publication : Carnan v. Bowles, 2 Bro. C. C. 58.
ASSIGNMENT OF AN EDITION. - In the case of Sweet v. Cater, 5 Jurist. 68., the plaintiff entered into a contract with the author of a work which had already passed through nine editions, to purchase from him, and to sell to the public at a fixed price, a tenth edition, consisting of 2500 copies. Upon a demurrer to a bill filed for an injunction to restrain the piracy of the work, it was held that the plaintiff had obtained a right in the copyright of the work until he should have sold off the tenth edition; that during such time the plaintiff had bound himself to sell the book at a fixed price, and the author would be bound not to interfere in the sale.
COPYRIGHT PERSONALTY. — The 5 & 6 Vict. c. 45. s. 25. makes all copyright personal property, transmissible by bequest; or, in case of intestacy, subject to the same law of distribution as other personal