1735: 8 George 2 c.13: An act for the encouragement of the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints, by vesting the properties thereof in the inventors and engravers, during the time therein mentioned.
WHEREAS divers persons have by their own genius, industry, pains, and expence, invented and engraved, or worked in Mezzotinto, or Chiaro Oscuro, sets of historical and other prints, in hopes to have reaped the sole benefit of their labours: and whereas print-sellers and other persons have of late, without the consent of the inventors, designers, and proprietors of such prints, frequently taken the liberty of copying, engraving, and publishing, or causing to be copied, engraved, and published, base copies of such works, designs, and prints, to the very great prejudice and detriment of the inventors, designers, and proprietors thereof; for remedy thereof, and for preventing such practices for the future, may it please your Majesty, that it may be enacted; and be it enacted by the King’s most excellent majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, That from and after the twenty fourth day of June, which shall be in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and thirty five, every person who shall invent and design, engrave, etch, or work in Mezzotinto or Chiaro Oscuro, or, from his own works and invention, shall cause to be designed and engraved, etched, or worked in Mezzotinto or Chiaro Oscuro, any historical or other print or prints, shall have the sole right and liberty of printing and reprinting the same for the term of fourteen years, to commence from the day of the first publishing thereof, which shall be truly engraved with the name of the proprietor on each plate, and printed on every such print or prints; and that if any print-seller, or other person whatsoever, from and after the said twenty fourth day of June, one thousand seven hundred and thirty five, within the time limited by this act, shall engrave, etch, or work, as aforesaid, or in any other manner copy and sell, or cause to be engraved, etched, or copied and sold, in the whole or in part, by varying, adding to, or diminishing from, the main design, or shall print, reprint, or import for sale, or cause to be printed, reprinted, or imported for sale, any such print or prints, or any parts thereof, without the consent of the proprietor or proprietors thereof first had and obtained in writing, signed by him or them respectively in the presence of two or more credible witnesses, or, knowing the same to be so printed or reprinted without the consent of the proprietor or proprietors, shall publish, sell, or expose to sale, or otherwise, or in any other manner dispose of, or cause to be published, sold, or exposed to sale, or otherwise, or in any -ther manner disposed of, any such print or prints without such consent first had and obtained, as aforesaid, then such offender or offenders shall forfeit the plate or plates on which such print or prints are or shall be copied, and all and every sheet or sheets (being part of, or whereon such print or prints are or shall be so copied or printed) to the proprietor or proprietors of such original print or prints, who shall forthwith destroy and damask the same; and further, that every such offender or offenders shall forfeit five shillings for every print which shall be found in his, her, or their custody, either printed or published, and exposed to sale, or otherwise disposed of, contrary to the true intent and meaning of this act; the one moiety thereof to the King’s most excellent majesty, his heirs and successors, and the other moiety thereof to any person or persons that shall sue for the same, to be recovered in any of his Majesty’s courts of record at Westminster, by action of debt, bill, plaint, or information, in which no wager of law, essoin, privilege, or protection, or more than one imparlance, shall be allowed.
II. Provided nevertheless, That it shall and may be lawful for any person or persons, who shall hereafter purchase any plate or plates for printing, from the original proprietors thereof, to print and reprint from the said plates, without incurring any of the penalties in this act mentioned.
III. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any action or suit shall be commenced or brought against any person or persons whatsoever for doing or causing to be done any thing in pursuance of this act, the same shall be brought within the space of three months after so doing; and the defendant and defendants in such action or suit shall or may plead the general issue, and give the special matter in evidence; and if upon such action or suit a verdict shall be given for the defendant or defendants, or if the plaintiff or plaintiffs become nonsuited, or discontinue his, her, or their action or actions, then the defendant or defendants shall have and recover full costs, for the recovery whereof he shall have the same remedy as any other defendant or defendants in any other case hath or have by law.
IV. Provided always, and be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid. That if any action or suit shall be commenced or brought against any person or persons for any offence committed against this act, the same shall be brought within the space of three months after the discovery of every such offence, and not afterwards; any thing in this act contained to the contrary notwithstanding.
V. And whereas John Pine of London, engraver, doth propose to engrave and publish a set of prints copied from several pieces of tapestry in the house of lords, and his Majesty’s wardrobe, and other drawings relating to the Spanish invasion, in the year of our Lord one thousand five hundred and eighty eight; be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said John Pine shall be intitled to the benefit of this act, to all intents and purposes whatsoever, in the same manner as if the said John Pine had been the inventor and designer of the said prints.
VI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That this act shall be deemed, adjudged, and taken to be a publick act, and be judicially taken notice of as such by all judges, justices, and other persons whatsoever, without specially pleading the same.
Further reading: Wikipedia.