Sayer v. Moore (1785)
Landmark Cases in Intellectual Property Law, Ch 3 (Jose Bellido, Ed., Hart Publishing 2017)
28 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2017
Date Written: February 23, 2017
The case of Sayer v. Moore (1785) may have only been reported as the footnote to another decision, but it produced one of the most memorable and popular pieces of copyright rhetoric. Lord Mansfield's statement that his decision required him to 'guard against two extremes equally prejudicial; the one, that men of ability, who have employed their time for the service of the community, may not be deprived of their just merits, and the reward of their ingenuity; the other, that the world may not be deprived of improvements, nor the progress of the arts be retarded' is commonly cited in support of the proposition that copyright law requires a balance between public and private interests. This chapter excavates the background and circumstances in which the case arose, considering it alongside two other unreported cases involving the same defendant - the colourful 18th century chartmaker and nautical publisher John Hamilton Moore. In doing so, it explores the links between copyright law and Enlightenment epistemology, in particular its relationship to scientific method and the collecting, organising, storing and dissemination of data.
Keywords: copyright, intellectual property, copyright history, map history, enlightenment
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