Commentary on Hinton v. Donaldson (1773)

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

Research output: Other contribution


The Scottish Court of Session, drawing upon principles of the civil law tradition, as well as arguments concerning broader national, social and cultural interests, reject the concept of copyright at common law - a decision that is in direct conflict with that of Millar v. Taylor (1769). Lord Monboddo provides the dissenting opinion, drawing upon the labour theory of property rights, and argues for a unified approach to the issue in relation to the common law of both England and Scotland.
Drawing upon Scottish Records Office archives the commentary explores the background to, and substance of, the decision. It suggests that, given the nature of the economic threat which the Scottish reprint industry posed to the London book trade, particularly in relation to an increasingly lucrative export market, Hinton undermined much of the value of the decision in Millar. The conflict between Millar and Hinton made it almost inevitable that the question of literary property would soon reach the House of Lords.
Original languageEnglish
TypeScholarly Commentary
Media of outputOnline
PublisherUniversity of Cambridge
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Please cite as: Deazley, R. (2008) ‘Commentary on Hinton v. Donaldson (1773)', in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,


  • copyright history


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