Commentary on Jeffreys v. Boosey (1854)

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

Research output: Other contribution


The second decision of the House of Lords to consider the nature of copyright law. As was the case in Donaldson v. Becket (1774) (uk_1774) the law lords were in disagreement with the majority of common law judges invited to speak to the issue for the consideration of the House. In the course of their opinions, two of the law lords (Lord Brougham and Lord St Leonards) explicitly reject the concept of copyright at common law. Rather than a natural authorial property right, they present copyright as a purely statutory phenomenon specifically grounded in public interest concerns. Ultimately, the Lords decided that a foreign national, resident abroad, but first publishing in Britain, enjoys no protection in his work under British copyright law.
Original languageEnglish
TypeScholarly Commentary
Media of outputOnline
PublisherUniversity of Cambridge
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Please cite as: Deazley, R. (2008) ‘Commentary on Jeffreys v. Boosey (1854)', in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,


  • copyright history


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