« ForrigeFortsett »
and children, would seem to require the same construction, and to have intended a personal benefit to the widow and children. The statute speaks of the widow and children in a restrictive sense as a descriptio personarum ; and it says that they shall be entitled to the renewal of the copy-right, on complying with certain terms.a
The justice and policy of securing to ingenious and learned men the profit of their discoveries and intellectual labour, were very ably stated by the court of K. B. in the great case of Miller v. Taylor. The constitution and laws of the United States contain the declared sense of this country in favour of some reasonable provision for the security of their productions. The former law of congress afforded only a scanty and inadequate protection, and did not rise to a level with the liberal spirit of the age. But the recent statute has made liberal amends, and redeemed the government of our country from the reproach to which it had been exposed. Lord Camden once declaimed against literary property. “Glory,” said he," is the reward of science, and those who deserve it scorn all meaner views. It was not for gain that Bacon, Newton, Milton and Locke instructed and delighted the world." In answer to this it may be said, that the most illustrious writers in every branch of science, within the last half century, have reaped a comfortable support as well as immortal fame, from the fruits of their pen. The experiment in Great Britain has proved the utility, as
* In the case of the Rev. John Pierpont, in the U. S. Circuit Court for Massachusetts, in 1847, having assigned his copy-right to his book, The Reader, renewed the copy-right at the expiration of the 14 years, and the assignee continuing to publish the book as his own, the court, (Judge Woodbury) held that the author, by selling the copy-right, sold only the right then existing, and that the subsequent copy-right so renewed, belonged to the original author, and the assignee was decreed to accouut for his subsequent sales.
well as the justice, of securing a liberal recompense to intellectual labour; and the prospect of gain has not been found, in the case of such men as Robertson, or Gibbon, or Sir Walter Scott, either to extinguish the ardour of genius, or abate the love of true glory.
OF TITLE TO PERSONAL PROPERTY BY TRANSFER BY
ACT OF LAW.
Goods and chattels may change owners by act of law, in the cases of forfeiture, succession, marriage, judgment, insolvency and intestacy. Those of succession and marriage have already been considered, and I shall now confine myself to the other means of acquiring title to chattels by act of law.
1. By forfeiture.
The title of government to goods by forfeiture, as a punishment for crimes, is confined, in New-York, to the case of treason. The right, so far as it exists in this country, depends, probably, upon local statute law; and the tendency of public opinion has been to condemn forfeiture of property, at least in cases of felony, as being an unnecessary and hard punishment of the felon's posterity. Every person convicted of any manner of treason, under the laws of New York, forfeits his goods and chattels, and also his lands and tenements, during his life-time; but the rights of all third persons, existing at the time of the
commission of the treason, are saved. Forfeiture of *386 property for crimes in any other case, is expressly *abo
« N. Y. Revised Statutes, vol. i. p. 284, sec. 1, 2 ; vol. ii. p.
656. sec. 3. It is made the duty of the attorney-general, to recover, by ejectment, real estate eschealed to the people of the state of New-York, or forfeited upon any conviction or outlawry for treason. Ibid. vol. i. p. 283, 284. There is a similar statute provision in some of the other states.
lished.a And even the attainder of treason does not extend to corrupt the blood of the offender, or to forfeit the dower of his wife.b The forfeiture in treason as to real estate, related, at common law, back to the time of the treason committed; and, therefore, all alienations and incumbrances by the traitor, between the time of the offence and the conviction, were avoided; but the forfeiture of his goods and chattels related only to the time of the conviction, and all sales made in good faith, and without fraud, before conviction, were good.
Forfeiture of estate, and corruption of blood, under the laws of the United States, and including cases of treason, are abolished. Forfeiture of property, in cases of treason and felony, was a part of the common law, and must exist at this day in the jurisprudence of those states where it has not been abolished by their constitutions, or by statute.e Several of the state constitutions have provided that no attainder of treason or felony shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate, except during the life of the offender, f and some of them have taken away the power of forfeiture absolutely, without any such exception.s There are other state constitutions which impliedly admit the existence or propriety of the power of forfeiture, by taking away the right of forfeiture
· N. Y. Revised Statutes, vol. ii. p. 701. sec. 22.
6 Ibid. vol. i. p. 742. sec. 16. Ibid. vol. i. p. 282. Ibid. vol. ii. p. 701, sec. 22. Thid. vol. ii. p. 98. sec. 81.
• 2 Hawk. P. C. b. 2. ch. 49. sec. 30. 4 Blacks. Com. 380. In the case of custom-house seizures for forfeiture of goods, the title of the government relates back to the time of the forfeiture. Ocean Ins. Co. v. Polleys, 13 Peters' Rep. 157.
• Laws of U. S. April 20th, 1790, ch. 9. sec. 24.
• In Massachusetts, as lands under their charter were held as of the manor of East-Greenwich, the customs of gavel-kind were so far applied to the tenure, as not to subject the lands to forseiture for treason or felony. Hutch. Hist. vol. i. p. 447.
i Constitutions of Pennsylvania, Delaware and Kentucky.
5 Constitutions of Connecticut, Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.
expressly in cases of suicide, and in the case of deodand, and preserving silence as to other cases; and in one instancea forfeiture of property is limited to the cases of treason and murder.
The English law has felt the beneficial influence of the progress of public opinion on this subject. The statute of 7 Anne, ch. 22, abolished, after the death of the
pretender, forfeiture for treason beyond the life of *387 the offender; and though the statute of 17 Geo.
II. ch. 29, postponed the operation of that provision, it was only until the death of the pretender and his sons. And, by a bill introduced into parliament by Sir Samuel Romilly, in 1814, and afterwards, under modifications, passed into a law, corruption of blood, in cases of felony, except murder, was abolished. The ingenious and spirited defence of the law of forfeiture, which was made by Sir Charles Yorke in the middle of the last century,c and in which he insisted, that it stood on “just, social, and comprehensive principles, and was a necessary safeguard to the state, whether built on maxims of monarchy or freedom," has failed to convince the judgment, or satisfy the humanity of the present age.
Government succeeds, as of course, to the personal and real estate of the intestate, when he has no heirs, or next of kin, to appear and claim it; but this is for the sake of order and good policy ; and the succession in such cases is usually regulated by statute.d
. Constitution of Maryland.
• This was the statute of 54 Geo. III. ch. 145, which declared, that no attainder for felony, murder excepted, should extend to disinherit tho heirs, or affect the right and title to the lands beyond the life of the offender. The statute of 3 and 4 Wm. IV. c. 106, weut further, and declared, that after the death of any person attainted, his descendants may inherit.
• Considerations on the Law of Forfeiture for High Treason. a Dane's Abr. vol. iv. p. 537, 538. Statutes of Connectict