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Dominion and Agency

Dominion and Agency: Copyright and the Structuring of the Canadian Book Trade, 1867-1918

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Dominion and Agency
    Book Description:

    A groundbreaking study, Dominion and Agency is an important exploration of the legal and economic structures that were instrumental in the formation of today's Canadian literary culture.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9566-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-14)

    Isolation, financial distraction, and the temptation to emigrate hounded Canadian writers in the decades following Confederation. Despite the acute desire for a literature that would mirror and fulfil the nationhood promised in the British North America Act of 1867, the Dominion of Canada was no more attractive a place to cultivate the art of letters than had been the former colonies. The second volume of theHistory of the Book in Canada, which runs to the year 1918, describes a country that, because of education, urbanization, and mass production, was increasingly able to read and write but not correspondingly able...

  5. 1 Conceiving the 1875 Act, 1868–72: The Principles of Copyright
    (pp. 15-43)

    The Canadian Copyright Act of 1875 promised literary nationhood. What it delivered, however, was a perplexing complication of literary property. It did not encourage the independent publishing industry or the national literature that many Canadians expected as the corollary of Confederation; instead, it amounted to a minor tool with which London publishers might increase their control over the circulation of books in a place that remained, in this respect, a mere colony, albeit a contested one. Its local proponents initially hoped that it would position Canada to produce cheap books for the vast anglophone markets of North America and the...

  6. 2 Achieving the 1875 Act, 1872–5: The London Publishers Prevail
    (pp. 44-68)

    John Lovellʹs reprinting at Rouses Point, the incident that caused the transformative correspondence between John Rose and Thomas Farrer, also prompted the London publishers to organize. On 5 February 1872, a week or so after the news had reached England, John Murray held a meeting at his office at which it was resolved to form the Copyright Association, a coalition of British publishers and authors interested in defending and extending the principle of property in texts. At the first general meeting on 19 March, Thomas Longman was appointed treasurer and F.R. Daldy honorary secretary. The association soon printed a pamphlet,...

  7. 3 Clarifying the 1875 Act, 1876–7: The Stunting of Belford Brothers
    (pp. 69-101)

    The key to independence in publishing is independence in copyright. For about a year after its passage, it appeared that the Canadian Copyright Act of 1875 had fulfilled this logic, making the statute of the Canadian parliament and its attendant regulations the sole basis for any claim to textual property among the rising printers and booksellers of the Dominion. Were Canadian firms now free to produce the books that anglophone North American readers generally wanted, developing their industrial capacity subject only to the rules of their own elected representatives? Was the promise of Confederation – a new nation with its...

  8. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  9. 4 Living with the 1875 Act: William Briggs, Printer, Binder, and Distributor
    (pp. 102-121)

    AfterSmiles v. Belford, Canadian firms generally turned once more to the subordinate role of distributing American or British editions. The clarification that Canada was not a separate copyright zone limited them from becoming general literary publishers, in that it inevitably stopped the unauthorized reprinting of popular texts, which was the simplest way to enter the game. The elimination of this possibility left the choice of whether or not to print an edition in or for Canada at the disposal of the imperial copyright owner, whose preference was usually to come to terms with an American publisher since the United...

  10. 5 The 1900 Amendment, the Agency System, and the Macmillan Company of Canada
    (pp. 122-140)

    A precious window onto the twentieth-century Canadian book trade exists in the extensive papers of the Macmillan Company of Canada. Macmillan branched into Canada shortly after the Canadian Copyright Amendment of 1900 had come into force, and the operations of the company thus reflect, first in unconscious and then in conscious ways, the effect of it. The intention of the amendment was to stabilize book prices by allowing a Canadian firm to become the exclusive distributor of a British copyright work to the national market. It thus aimed to eliminate what William Briggs had suffered withThe Raiders– rival...

  11. 6 The North American Copyright Divide: Black Rock and the Magnification of ʹRalph Connorʹ
    (pp. 141-163)

    As the preceding chapters have argued, British imperial copyright hindered the development of a book-publishing industry in the Dominion of Canada. It precluded unauthorized reprinting and thus closed off the possibility of the Dominion becoming a competitive centre of book production within the North American context. The post-Confederation campaign to make Canada sovereign in copyright hit stiff resistance from the elite at the centre of the imperial book trade – the London publishers – and when reform finally came in the Canadian Copyright Act of 1875, it reinforced rather than supplanted the rights of the imperial copyright owner, much to...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 164-170)

    The foregoing study explains the manner in which Canada, at the moment of its inception as a modern state, absorbed a fundamentally unnational model for the production of literature. In the wake of Confederation, Canadian politicians, under pressure from their constituents, urged the imperial government to reform the law of copyright so that Canada could become the site of an inexpensive, rapid reprint industry. Canadian printers hoped to begin producing their own editions of popular books in order to compete with the ubiquitous American reprints in what was essentially one continental market. They argued that once literary book production had...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 171-192)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 193-202)
  15. Index
    (pp. 203-222)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 223-224)