Copyright is “but a proper reward for his labor”

To the foundational pluralists, I present this gem:

THOMPSON, Circuit Justice, charged the jury that the privilege of an author to the exclusive sale of his works for a limited term of years, although a monopoly, was not so in the odious meaning of the term; it was but a proper reward for his labor provided by law, and to which he was as much entitled as to the exclusive enjoyment of any other kind of property. . . .

The law was intended to secure to authors the fruits of their skill, labor and genius, for a limited time; and if in this instance the defendant had availed himself of the surveys of the plaintiff in compiling his chart, the plaintiff was entitled to a verdict. . . .

The jury retired, and in less than five minutes brought in a verdict for the plaintiff.

Blunt v. Patten, 3 F. Cas. 762, 763 (C.C.S.D.N.Y. 1828).

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