An Enquiry into Literary Property, London (1762)

Source: Cambridge University Library: 7000 c.6

An Enquiry into Literary Property, London (1762), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

Back | Record | Images | Commentaries: [1]
Record-ID: uk_1762a

Permanent link:

Full title:
Anon., An Enquiry into the Nature and Origin of Literary Property

Full title original language:

One of a number of published commentaries contributing to the mid-eighteenth century debate concerning the nature of literary property. The author of An Enquiry sought to repudiate the concept of a natural authorial property right existing at common law. In so doing, he specifically engaged with various aspects of William Warburton's earlier commentary (uk_1747), as well as presenting arguments that drew upon the nature of property in general, the differences between the right claimed by proponents of the common law right and other acknowledged incorporeal properties, the similarities between patents and copyright, the history of literary property, the experience of other jurisdictions (drawing upon Venice in particular), and the consequences that would follow from conceding the existence of a perpetual right both for authors in particular and society in general. This commentary, in turn, drew its own response in the guise of A Vindication of the Exclusive Rights of Authors, to their own work (1762).

1 Commentary:

  • Sherman, B., and Bently, L., The Making of Modern Intellectual Property Law, The British Experience, 1760-1911 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999)

  • Rose, M., Authors and Owners: The Invention of Copyright (London: Harvard University Press, 1993)

  • Deazley, R., On the Origin of the Right to Copy: Charting the Movement of Copyright Law in Eighteenth Century Britain, 1695-1775 (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2004)

Related documents in this database:
1761: Tonson v. Collins
1762: Tonson v. Collins
1762: A Vindication of the Rights of Authors
1766: Blackstone's Commentaries, Vol.II (selected extracts)
1774: Hargrave's Argument in Defence of Literary Property
1774: Enfield's Observations
1774: Macauley's A Modest Plea
1774: Stella's Modest Exceptions

Author: N/A

Publisher: Flexney/Holburn

Year: 1762

Location: London

Language: English

Source: Cambridge University Library: 7000 c.6

Persons referred to:
Bacon, Francis
Capra, Baldessar
Crébillon, Prosper Jolyot de
Dryden, John
Galilei, Galileo
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm
Marius, Simon
Newton, Sir Isaac
Otway, Thomas
Pufendorf, Samuel, Freiherr von
Shakespeare, William
Warburton, William

Places referred to:

Cases referred to:
Crébillon's case (1749)
Galileo v. Capra (1607)

Institutions referred to:
Parlement of Paris


authors' remuneration
common law copyright
learning, the advancement of
natural rights
property theory
public domain
translations, protection of

Responsible editor: Ronan Deazley

Our Partners

Copyright statement

You may copy and distribute the translations and commentaries in this resource, or parts of such translations and commentaries, in any medium, for non-commercial purposes as long as the authorship of the commentaries and translations is acknowledged, and you indicate the source as Bently & Kretschmer (eds), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900) (

You may not publish these documents for any commercial purposes, including charging a fee for providing access to these documents via a network. This licence does not affect your statutory rights of fair dealing.

Although the original documents in this database are in the public domain, we are unable to grant you the right to reproduce or duplicate some of these documents in so far as the images or scans are protected by copyright or we have only been able to reproduce them here by giving contractual undertakings. For the status of any particular images, please consult the information relating to copyright in the bibliographic records.

Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900) is co-published by Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge, 10 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DZ, UK and CREATe, School of Law, University of Glasgow, 10 The Square, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK