On this day:
1710 – The Statute of Anne, the first law regulating copyright, comes into force in Great Britain.
The Statute of Anne, also known as the Copyright Act 1710 (cited either as 8 Ann. c. 21 or as 8 Ann. c. 19), is an act of the Parliament of Great Britain passed in 1710, which was the first statute to provide for copyright regulated by the government and courts, rather than by private parties.
Prior to the statute’s enactment in 1710, copying restrictions were authorized by the Licensing of the Press Act 1662. These restrictions were enforced by the Stationers’ Company, a guild of printers given the exclusive power to print—and the responsibility to censor—literary works. The censorship administered under the Licensing Act led to public protest; as the act had to be renewed at two-year intervals, authors and others sought to prevent its reauthorisation. In 1694, Parliament refused to renew the Licensing Act, ending the Stationers’ monopoly and press restrictions.
Over the next 10 years the Stationers repeatedly advocated bills to re-authorize the old licensing system, but Parliament declined to enact them. Faced with this failure, the Stationers decided to emphasise the benefits of licensing to authors rather than publishers, and the Stationers succeeded in getting Parliament to consider a new bill. This bill, which after substantial amendments was granted Royal Assent on 5 April 1710, became known as the Statute of Anne due to its passage during the reign of Queen Anne. The new law prescribed a copyright term of 14 years, with a provision for renewal for a similar term, during which only the author and the printers they chose to license their works to could publish the author’s creations. Following this, the work’s copyright would expire, with the material falling into the public domain. Despite a period of instability known as the Battle of the Booksellers when the initial copyright terms under the Statute began to expire, the Statute of Anne remained in force until the Copyright Act 1842 replaced it.
The statute is considered a “watershed event in Anglo-American copyright history … transforming what had been the publishers’ private law copyright into a public law grant”. Under the statute, copyright was for the first time vested in authors rather than publishers; it also included provisions for the public interest, such as a legal deposit scheme. The Statute was an influence on copyright law in several other nations, including the United States, and even in the 21st century is “frequently invoked by modern judges and academics as embodying the utilitarian underpinnings of copyright law”.
1866 – The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is founded in New York City by Henry Bergh.
Henry Bergh (August 29, 1813 – March 12, 1888) founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in April, 1866, three days after the first effective legislation against animal cruelty in the United States was passed into law by the New York State Legislature. Bergh also prompted the formation, in 1874, of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC).
Bergh was born in New York City and studied at Columbia College, after which he worked in his fathers’ shipyard. After the shipyard was sold, Bergh received a share of the inheritance and set forth on a lengthy journey throughout Western Europe with his young bride, Catherine Matilda Taylor.
In 1862, Bergh was appointed secretary and acting vice-consul to the American legation in St. Petersburg, Russia by then President Abraham Lincoln. The severity of the climate obliged him to resign in 1864, and he traveled extensively in Europe and the Orient.
On returning to the United States, Bergh resolved to work on behalf of animal welfare. Cruelties witnessed in Europe first suggested his mission. Alone, in the face of indifference, opposition, and ridicule, he began working as a speaker and lecturer, but most of all in the street and the courtroom, and before the legislature. His cause gained friends and rapidly increased in influence. The legislature passed the laws prepared by him, and on April 10, 1866 the ASPCA was legally organized, with Bergh as president.
The association moved steadily forward, and by August was in a flourishing condition financially, having received a valuable property from Bergh and his wife. In 1871 a Parisian, Louis Bonard, who lived with extreme simplicity in New York, died and left $150,000 to the Society, which permitted a move to larger quarters, better adapted to its work, a building at the corner of 4th Avenue and 22nd Street.
During 1873 Bergh made a lecturing tour in the western U.S., which resulted in the formation of several societies similar to that in New York. He spoke before the Evangelical Alliance and Episcopal convention, and was the means of having a new canon confirmed, to the effect that Protestant Episcopal clergyman should at least once a year preach a sermon on cruelty and mercy to animals.
One of the outgrowths of his work was an ambulance corps for removing disabled animals from the street, and a derrick to rescue them from excavations into which they had fallen. He also originated an ingenious invention which substitutes artificial for live pigeons as marks for sportsmen’s guns.
When Bergh began his work, no state or territory of the United States contained any statute relating to the protection of animals from cruelty. By 1886, 39 states had adopted substantially the original laws procured by him from the legislature of New York.
In 1874, Bergh was approached by a Methodist missionary named Etta Agnell Wheeler, who sought help rescuing a child named Mary Ellen Wilson from her cruel abuser, Mary Connolly. After Mary Ellen’s story was heard, and she was subsequently rescued through Bergh’s efforts, other complaints came in to Bergh. In response, Bergh himself, along with Elbridge T. Gerry and John D. Wright, formed the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NYSPCC) in 1875. Over the coming years, other SPCC organizations were formed, such as the Massachusetts organization in 1888, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC).
He died on March 12, 1888, in New York City. Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow eulogized Bergh as “among the noblest in the land…friend to every friendless beast.” Henry Bergh is interred at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.
Born on this day:
1865 – Jack Miner, American-Canadian farmer, hunter, and environmentalist (d. 1944)
John Thomas Miner, OBE (April 10, 1865 – November 3, 1944), or “Wild Goose Jack,” was a Canadian conservationist called by some the “father” of North American conservationism.
Born John Thomas Miner in Dover Center (Westlake), Ohio, he and his family moved in 1878 to Canada. Their home would be a free homestead at Gosfield South Township (part of Essex County), near Kingsville, Ontario. Miner’s parents had emigrated from Leicestershire, England in the mid-19th century, and John Thomas was the fifth of ten children. He did not receive a formal education, and was illiterate until the age of 33. In the 1880s he worked as a trapper and hunter to supplement his family’s business income in the manufacture of tiles and bricks (from a claybed on their land).
Miner’s first experiments with conservation took the form of erecting brushwood shelters and providing grain to bobwhite quail, which seemed to have difficulty surviving the winter. He also raised ringnecked pheasants. At last, he noticed that Canada geese were stopping at ponds on his land in spring, on their migration northward.
In 1904, Miner created a pond on his farm with seven clipped, tame Canada geese, hoping to attract wild geese. It would take four years of effort before the wild geese finally began to settle at Miner’s sanctuary. In 1911 and onwards, geese and ducks were arriving in large numbers, and Miner increased the size of his pond. In 1913, the entire homestead had become a bird sanctuary. The provincial government of Ontario provided funding for Miner’s project, allowing him to add evergreen trees and shrubs, and to dig more ponds and surround them with sheltering groves.
Migratory bird banding
Miner was one of the first conservationists to determine the migratory paths of birds. In August 1909, he constructed a successful duck trap. His subject was banding with his own hand-stamped aluminum band. Along with address information, his bird tags quoted scripture: “Keep yourselves in the love of God—Jude 1-21” and “With God all things are possible—Mark 10-27”. Late that year, his original band was recovered in Anderson, South Carolina. This marked the first complete record for banding migratory birds.
In the spring of 1915, Jack Miner successfully adapted his trap to capture Canada geese. He conceived a trap with two separate ponds, adjoined by a canal. The canal was covered with network and fitted to trap doors at either terminus. At the time, it was not known where geese made their summer roost. Only a general northward direction was known from settler reports in Northern Ontario.
Miner’s captured goose was fitted with a tag giving the postal address of the conservationist. Subsequently, in October of the same year, Jack Miner received a letter from the Hudson’s Bay Company in Moose Factory, complete with his tag. The letter indicated that the Goose had been killed by a Native American in the Hudson Bay District.
This initial success and increasing interest nationwide spurred on an expansion of the tagging operation. In 1916, hundreds of geese were tagged, along with various other waterfowl. By the fall, tags were coming in from all along the eastern shore of James Bay, Hudson Bay, and as far abroad as Baffin Island. A second route south into the United States followed the Mississippi Flyaway, into states such as North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and the gulf coasts of Florida. Often, these tags were returned by poachers, curious Native Americans or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Using information garnered from these returned bands, the migratory habits of Canadian geese were mapped out.
Miner’s religious inscriptions garnered the interests of active missionaries. This provided an avenue for their return outside of game hunters in the Hudson Bay region. On one occasion, Reverend W. G. Walton, an Anglican missionary, hand delivered a pocketful of tags from Hudson’s Bay. He had received these tags from as far as Baffin Island from natives.
Thousands of subsequent bird taggings over the following years produced copious data that would help to establish the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, representing an agreement between six nations making it unlawful to capture, sell, or kill certain migratory birds.
In 1923, Miner published an account of his banding methods and waterfowl conservation studies in Jack Miner and the Birds. It was very popular: all 4000 copies of the first print-run sold out in nine months. The book is still in print.
In 1910, Miner began a lifelong career of lecturing. He spoke about wildlife conservation and the need for the establishment of sanctuaries and wildlife refuges, and told of his banding, research, and habitat preservation methods. He encouraged junior bird clubs and the building of bird boxes, and expressed his concern about the declining ecological condition of the Great Lakes.
Despite his conservation ethic, Miner called for the extermination of some species based on their non-monogamous reproductive habits. He disliked predatory animals, and a New York Times article of the late 1920s defending crows indicated that Miner had killed hundreds of them. In 1931, Miner embarked on a campaign to reduce owl and hawk populations in Ontario because he believed they were threatening small animal populations. A naturalist group in Toronto called the Brodie Club published a pamphlet entitled The Brodie Club Examines Jack Miner’s “Facts About Hawks”. Miner was furious about this and tried to sue for libel. However the Brodie Club had no officers so there was no one to sue.
Miner’s conservation ethic was unique in the sense that it was informed by both his Christian religious beliefs and his own biological observations. Miner’s faith played a central role in shaping his ideas about conservation and more generally, the natural world, by working out of a creationist foundation. In a posthumously published article, Miner explicitly rejects evolutionary biology, ascribing to a literal interpretation of Biblical scripture. Drawing from Christian scripture, Miner came to form a worldview situating humans as holding dominion over the natural world. Indeed, his son Manly Miner describes the core belief of his father’s environmental philosophy as being that “God put birds and animals here for man’s use and for man to control.”  In this sense, for Miner, humans were charged with playing an active and protective role in conservation and ecological preservation.
Miner’s religious faith is necessary for understanding his beliefs and methods of conservation. He viewed natural and biological relationships as consisting of a moral element, an idea that is illustrated in his classification of animals based on perceived human characteristics. Indeed, Miner admired the qualities of industriousness found in robins and the motherly care of ducks. He praised the monogamous mating relationships and loyalty of the Canadian goose while criticizing the tendency for drakes to leave their mate when she begins nesting. In contrast to his class of morally good animals, was a group of animals that he considered to be morally bad. This group included natural predators, whom he described as being “cold-blooded,” “cannibals,” (when referring to predatory birds) and “murderers.” The natural instincts of predators were to Miner moral dimensions and the language he uses when describing encounters with predators certainly illustrates this. In one instance, Miner writes of “seeking revenge” on an owl that had killed one of his geese. Indeed, Miner did seek revenge on the predatory birds that threatened the creatures he admired so much. He describes the delivery of trapped live crows to gun clubs to be used for target shooting, a practice which he suggests as a punishment for their “murdering” of young quail and sparrows.
While Miner’s work has been an important part of wildlife conservation in Canada, it should be noted that it was selective conservation, influenced by both the religiously derived moral qualities of wildlife and the anthropocentric view of the natural world as being an object of control and management for human beings.