Statute of Anne

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The Statute of Anne was a copyright law enacted in England in 1710. 8 Ann., c. 19.[1]

This English statute, in addition to providing authors with copyrights on new works for a term of 14 years renewable for another 14-year term, also replaced the booksellers' claimed perpetual rights in existing works with a single 21-year term. In 1735, the booksellers proposed an amendment that would have extended the terms of existing copyrights until 1756, but the amendment was defeated. Opponents of the amendment had argued that if the bill were to pass, it would "in Effect be establishing a perpetual Monopoly ... only to increase the private Gain of the Booksellers ...."

The first Congress enacted the first federal copyright law, the 1790 Copyright Act, based on the Statute of Anne.


  1. See Fred Fisher Music Co. v. M. Witmark & Sons, 318 U.S. 643, 647-648 (1943).