Commentary on Fine Arts Copyright Act 1862

Ronan Deazley, Lionel Bently (Editor), Martin Kretschmer (Editor)

Research output: Other contribution


Legislation conferring copyright protection on paintings, drawings, and photographs for the life of the author plus a seven year post mortem term. The Act was also innovative in de-coupling the copyright term from the event of publication, in providing artists with a new form of ‘moral rights' protection, and in introducing the concept of "originality" as the standard threshold for copyright protection.
The commentary explores the background to the legislation, and in particular, the international copyright regime, the nature of the art market in eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the role of the Society of Artists in lobbying for legislative protection, and the impetus which the International Exhibition provided for securing the same. The commentary also considers how the 1862 Bill, in its earliest incarnation, incorporated elements that would have signalled a radical departure from established copyright norms. In particular, the Bill proposed: that copyright protection should not be contingent upon registration; and that protection should be offered on a universal basis, regardless of an artists' nationality, and regardless of where the work in question was created.
Original languageEnglish
TypeScholarly Commentary
Media of outputOnline
PublisherUniversity of Cambridge
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Please cite as: Deazley, R. (2008) ‘Commentary on Fine Arts Copyright Act 1862', in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,


  • copyright history


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