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  • Gyles v Wilcox 26 ER 489 was a decision of the Court of Chancery of England that established the doctrine of fair abridgement, which would later evolve into the concept of fair use. The case was heard and the opinion written by Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke, and concerned Fletcher Gyles, a bookseller who had published a copy of Matthew Hale's Pleas of the Crown. Soon after the initial publication, the publishers Wilcox and Nutt hired a writer named Barrow to abridge the book, and repackaged it as Modern Crown Law. Gyles sued for a stay on the book's publishing, claiming his rights under the Statute of Anne had been infringed. The main issues in the case were whether or not abridgements of a work were inherently pirated copies, or whether they could qualify as a separate, new work. Lord Hartwicke ruled that abridgements fell under two categories: "true abridgements" and "coloured shortenings". True abridgements presented a true effort on the part of the editor, and by this effort, constituted a new work which did not infringe upon the copyright of the original. Leaving it to literary and legal experts to decide, Hartwicke ruled that Modern Crown Law was not a true abridgement, but merely a piracy intending to circumvent the law. Wikipedia

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