The early 19th century saw little regard for an author’s rights to his property. Plagiarism was rampant. In 1844, Dickens filed suit against the publishers of a pirated edition of A Christmas Carol. The judge found in his favor, but he ended up having to pay his own costs, amounting to £700. This was an English publisher, and not the first to deprive him of the fruits of his labors. Previously, on the other side of the pond, the Americans stole, too—and were deeply offended when he mentioned it during his American tour.
Piracy, however, worked both ways, as this excerpt from the American magazine, The Knickerbocker, indicates.
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The Moment of Imagination, 1785, courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA