The journal of design and manufactures
Original papers: Obituaries of eminent manufacturers., pp. 65-72
Mem of the late James Thomson, Esq., F.S., of Clitheroe. 71 tor enjoys the profits of his invention as the reward of his genius; and when it haa been proved to the legislature that the remuneration has not been adequate to the importance of the invention, as in the greatest of all patent inventions, the Steam Engine of Watt, the term has been extended by act of Parliament; a recent act of Lord Brougham's simplifies the extension of a patent by referring it to a Committee of the Privy Council. " I look in vain, Sir, to the copyright of designs for anything analogous in prin- ciple to the two foregoing examples. I look in vain to new and original designs for anything analogous in kind to those intellectual efforts of genius destined to improve and delight mankind for ages yet to come ; or to those inventions by which labour is abridged, human power increased, and the comforts and luxuries of life, by being made more cheap, are diffused more widely over the surface of the earth, and the Sum of human happiness augmented. In these things the public has the deepest in- terest, and that interest is guarded by wise and cautious legislation. "Where, Sir, are the points of resemblance between these great objects and that which forms the subject of this letter, and of the investigation now going on before a Committee of the House ? I see none but what arises from a mistaken and a mis- chievous association of the idea of xONOPOLY with COPYRIGHT in designs, at which the legislature feels alarm for the public interest. "If a pattern were an enduring thing, like an engine or a book, a reversionary interest in it for the public would be desirable and just; but patterns are for the most part like soap-bubbles blown in the sunshine ; glittering and iridescent, they burst almost at the moment of their birth, and leave not a trace behind.- NOVELTY, the handmaid of FASHION, and sometimes the enemy of TASTE, enjoys but a short and fleeting existence-it is, of its very essence, quickly to fade and pass away. Some exceptions, ' few and far between,' affect not the general truth of this statement. "The interest of the public then consists, not in wresting a short-lived copyright from the hands of the original designer, but in obtaining a succession of patterns, the best, the purest in taste, the most original in design that can possibly be produced, and this, Sir, after long experience and much reflection, I venture confidently to pronounce to be attainable osxy by such an extension of the term of copyright in de- signs, as will give the printer sec'ity for his property and a remunerating interest in his labours. "Then, Sir, will arise an active and honourable competition, beneficial alike to both, between two classes of printers, till then so hostile to each other. Necessity is the mother of invention, and those who have hitherto been content to copy, will then be compelled to invent, and those who have led the race must then redouble their speed. " It is in the power of the legislature to place us on the scale of taste and refine- ment in industrial art, at that point precisely, which it shall choose we should occupy amongst the manufacturing nations of Europe. Reject the prayer of our petition, and we sink still lower on the scale ; for to be stationary, whilst all around am advancing, is to retrograde. Grant half our prayer, and you remedy not half the evil; whilst some are relieved, the burden of the rest is rendered still more intoler- able. Six months' copyright would protect the home trade printer from the effects of piracy on his home demand, but not on his foreign; there are many distant and im- portant markets for his prints, which a six months' copyright could not include, and furniture printing, an important branch, would be left just where it now is. A six months' act would be a partial, ungracious, ungenerous boon to one portion of the trade, and an act of injustice to another. Give us then twelve months, which will include every class of printers in the trade; it will be received, not merely a. an act of justice, which if delayed would at no distant period become an act of necessity, but as an act of grace. " It will form the commencement of a new era in our art, when placed for the first time on a footing of equality with our rivals of France, who have long enjoyed a twelve months' protection, we can enter the lists with them in the department of TASTE in a fair and honourable competition. " Then, Sir, we will attend your schools of design, we will raise the character of our artists by a more careful and liberal education, and a higher recompense; and we will seek wherever it is to found, in schools, in academies, and amongst artists of the highest grade both at home and abroad, for those materials and that character of art, which infused into our designs will by degrees, I hope not slow degrees, free us from that reproach, which is but too well deserved, of NATIONAL INFERIORITY OF TASTE AND FANCY." "This is abundantly shewn by the evidence of Mr. Aldermau Kershaw, before the select com- mitte."
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