Turner v. Robinson, Dublin (1860)

Source: Squire Law Library, Cambridge

Turner v. Robinson, Dublin (1860), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org

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Record-ID: uk_1860

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Full title:
Turner v. Robinson (1860) 10 Ir Ch R 121 (MR)

Full title original language:

In Turner v Robinson (1860) the Irish Rolls Court ruled on common law copyright as it applied to a painting: The Death of Chatterton by Henry Wallis. The decision is notable for its support for potentially extensive protection for painting at common law. At common law, protection ceased upon publication of the work, and Turner supported the view that a painting was not published for these purposes either on publication of an engraving of a painting or on public exhibition that was in some way qualified (in the case in question, exhibition for the purposes of obtaining subscribers to the engraving and public exhibition at the Royal Academy and Manchester Art Treasures exhibition, where it was claimed that copying was restricted by gallery rules). The result of Turner was that paintings might still be protected by common law copyright, even though they had been publicly exhibited. Following this ruling, certain galleries (the National Gallery London and the National Gallery of Scotland) introduced rules prohibiting the copying in the gallery of the works of living painters without their consent. Notwithstanding this expansive interpretation of common law copyright, the focus of artists (as Ronan Deazley’s commentary on uk_1862 shows) remained with securing statutory protection for painting copyright. Turner was not subsequently endorsed by a higher court. Also, the decision of the Rolls Court contained an aspect that would not have been favoured by artists: that the common law right attached to ownership of the physical painting, such that it ‘passes at the Common Law with a transfer of the work of art’ (at 142). The Rolls Court ordered that further enquiries be made as to the rules of copying at the Manchester and Royal Academy exhibitions. That order was appealed to the Irish Court of Appeal, which then decided the case on the alternative ground of breach of confidence: (1860) 10 Ir Ch R 510.

Commentary: No commentaries for this record.

  • Cooper, E., Art and Modern Copyright: The Contested Image (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018) p.p.212-215

Related documents in this database:

Author: N/A

Publisher: N/A


Location: Dublin

Language: English

Source: Squire Law Library, Cambridge

Persons referred to:
Alison, Sir Archibald
Antoinette, Marie
Bell, Jacob
Colnaghi & Co
Day & Son
Deane, John C.
Delabere Roberton Blaine
Eastlake, Sir Charles
Fairbairn, Thomas
Harding, J.D.
Hoyle, John F.
Judge Berwick
Knight, John P.
Leopold Egg, Augustus
Lord Brougham
Lord Cottenham
Lord Cranworth
Lord Lyndhust
Lord Mansfield
Lord St Leonards
Murray, Isaac
Oldham Barlow, Thomas
Paxton, Sir Joseph
Redgrave, Richard
Robinson, James
Ruskin, John
Scharf, Sir George
Scott, Sir Walter
Thomson, James
Turner, J.M.W.
Turner, Robert
Wallis, Henry
Walsh, J.E.
Ward, Edward Matthew
Willes J
Yates J

Places referred to:

Cases referred to:
Abernethy v. Hutchinson 1 H. & Tw. 28
Bogue v. Houlston 5 De G. & Sm. 267
Carpenter v. Smith 9 M. & W. 300
Chappel v. Davidson 18 C.B. 894
Coleman v. Wathern 5 T.R. 245
Croft v. Day 7 Beav. 84
Donaldson v. Becket 4 Bur 2409, SC, 2 Br. P. C. 13
Duke of Queensbury v. Shebbeare 2 Ed. 329
Jeffreys v. Boosey 4 H.L. Cas. 944
Machlin v. Richardson 2 Ambl. 694
Martin v. Wright 6 Sim. 297
Millar v Taylor 4 Bur. 2303
Murray v. Bogue 2 Drew. 353
Murray v. Elliston 5 B. Ald. 659
Novello v. Sudlow 12 C.B. 177
Perceval v. Phipps 2 V. & B. 28
Pope v. Curl 2 Atk. 342
Prince Albert v. Strange 1 M’N. & Gor. 25
Sweet v. Carter 11 Sim. 572
Sykes v. Sykes 5 B. & C. 11
Thompson v. Stanhope Ambl.737
West v. Francis 5 B. & Ald. 737

Institutions referred to:
House of Lords
National Gallery, London
Royal Academy of Arts


Common law copyright
Henry Wallis
Manchester Art Treasures
Royal Academy of Arts
Stereoscopic pictures
The Death of Chatterton
Unpublished works

Responsible editor: Elena Cooper

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