Commentary on the Models and Busts Act 1798

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

Research output: Other contribution


The first occasion on which British copyright law provided protection for a medium other than print. The legislation conferred exclusive rights lasting 14 years on persons who created new models or casts of human or animal figures.
The commentary describes the background to the Act, in particular the lobbying efforts of the artist and sculptor George Garrard, as well as the subsequent case-law, highlighting flaws in the drafting that lead to a further act in 1814. The commentary argues that while the 1798 Act is pre-modern, in the sense of having a reactive and subject-specific remit, by severing copyright from its print basis, the Act paved the way for the emergence of the modern image of copyright as concerned with the promotion of ‘art and literature'.
Original languageEnglish
TypeScholarly Description
Media of outputOnline
PublisherUniversity of Cambridge
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Please cite as: Deazley, R. (2008) ‘Commentary on the Models and Busts Act 1798', in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,


  • copyright history


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