FYI April 10, 2018


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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),[1] 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.[2] In 1694, Parliament refused to renew the Licensing Act, ending the Stationers’ monopoly and press restrictions.[3]

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 to whom they chose to license their works could publish the author’s creations.[4] 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”.[5] 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”.[6]


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.[1] 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.[2]

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.[3] 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.[4] 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 Canada geese were mapped.

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.[5]




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