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Lord Byron, Copyright and the Demons of the Law

59 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2011 Last revised: 19 Mar 2017

Leslie Katz

Independent

Date Written: March 18, 2017

Abstract

On nine separate occasions between 1816 and 1828, legal proceedings were begun or, at least, contemplated for the purpose either of prohibiting or recovering monetary compensation for the sale of an unauthorized edition of a published work or works that had been written by Byron. On seven of those occasions, a specific published work of Byron’s was involved: Hours of Idleness; English Bards and Scotch Reviewers; Beppo; Don Juan, Cantos I and II; Cain; and Don Juan, Cantos VI to VIII. On the remaining two of those occasions, numerous published works of Byron’s were involved. The paper discusses all nine of those occasions.

On a further six occasions between 1816 and 1826, legal proceedings were begun that involved in some other way Byron’s literary output (or claimed literary output). On three of those occasions, a specific published work of Byron’s was involved: Marino Faliero, Doge of Venice; Cain; and The Vision of Judgement. On one of those occasions, poems deliberately falsely attributed to Byron were involved. On one of those occasions, unpublished letters written by Byron were involved. On one of those occasions, illustrations of Byron's works were involved. The paper discusses all six of those occasions too.

The paper includes and discusses four satirical prints showing respectively: Byron; John Cam Hobhouse; Lord Chancellor Eldon; and William Benbow, which prints had been created by leading satirical printmakers of Byron’s day.

Keywords: Lord Byron, John Murray, John Hunt, James Cawthorn, Joseph Onwhyn, William Hodgson, William Sherwin, William Benbow, William Dugdale, John Limbird, pirated literary works, copyright in literary works, exception for immoral literary works, Lord Chancellor Eldon, Vice-Chancellor Leach

Suggested Citation

Katz, Leslie, Lord Byron, Copyright and the Demons of the Law (March 18, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1856490 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1856490

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