Mifflin v. R. H. White Co.
190 U.S. 260 (1903)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Mifflin v. R. H. White Co., 190 U.S. 260 (1903)

Mifflin v. R. H. White Company

No. 268

Argued April 30, May 1, 1903

Decided June 1, 1903

190 U.S. 260

Syllabus

The serial publication of an author's work in a magazine with his consent and before any steps are taken to secure a copyright is such a publication as vitiates, under § 4 of the act of 1831, the copyright afterwards attempted to be taken out. Holmes v. Hurst,174 U. S. 82. Where there is no evidence that the publishers were the assignees or acted as the agents of the author for the purpose of taking out copyright, the copyright entry of a magazine, made by them under the act of 1831 and under the title of the magazine, will not validate the copyright entry subsequently made under a different title by the author of a portion of the contents of the magazine. And see Mifflin v. Dutton, post, p. 190 U. S. 266.

This was a bill in equity by the firm of Houghton, Mifflin & Co., as assignees of the late Oliver Wendell Holmes, against

Page 190 U. S. 261

the R. H. White Company, for a violation of the copyright upon the "Professor at the Breakfast Table." The work was published serially during the year 1859, in the Atlantic Monthly Magazine at first by Phillips, Sampson & Co., and later by the firm of Ticknor & Fields. The first ten parts were published from January to October, 1859, by Phillips, Sampson & Co. without copyright protection. The remaining two numbers for the months of November and December, 1859, were entered for copyright by Ticknor & Fields, whose copyright purported to cover the entire magazine. After its publication serially had been completed, Dr. Holmes published the entire work in one volume, containing a proper notice of copyright.

Upon this state of facts, the circuit court dismissed the bill, 107 F. 708, and, upon appeal to the circuit court of appeals, that court affirmed the decree. 112 F. 1004.

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