Stevens v. Gladding,
60 U.S. 64 (1856)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Stevens v. Gladding, 60 U.S. 19 How. 64 64 (1856)

Stevens v. Gladding

60 U.S. (19 How.) 64


Where no error appears upon the record in the proceedings of the circuit court, the case having been left to a jury and no instructions asked from the court, the judgment below must be affirmed.

The plaintiff in error, Stevens, was the same person who was the appellant in the case of Stevens v. Cady, reported in 14 How. 529.

In the present suit, he brought an action, being a citizen of Connecticut, against Gladding & Proud, booksellers of Providence, in Rhode Island. It was a qui tam action in which he claimed two thousand dollars because the defendants published and sold two thousand copies of his map of the State of Rhode Island, for which he had obtained a copyright.

The defendants pleaded not guilty, and the case went on to trial before a jury, who found a verdict for the defendants. In the progress of the trial, there was no prayer to the court to instruct the jury upon a matter of law, nor any bill of exceptions whatever.

Stevens managed the case for himself, and it would be difficult to conjecture the reason for suing out a writ of error if it were not for the following assignment of error which was attached to the record:

"This was a qui tam action at law in debt for the forfeitures and penalties incurred by the defendants for the violation of a copyright granted to the plaintiff in error, on the 23d day of April, 1831, under an Act of Congress entitled 'An act to amend the several acts respecting copyrights, approved 3d February, 1831.'"

"The plaintiff's title to this copyright is set forth in the declaration herein. The principal questions in this case are was the verdict and judgment correct? Was the sale of the engraved plates the sale of a copyright? Did such sale authorize the defendants, or any other person, to print and sell this literary production, still subsisting under a copyright in this complainant?"

"The very learned opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States, delivered by MR. JUSTICE NELSON, in bill in chancery, James Stevens v. Isaac H. Cady, 14 How. 528, is ample and decisive on this subject."

"JAMES STEVENS, for himself"

Page 60 U. S. 65

In this Court, the following brief was filed by Mr. Ames, no counsel appearing for the plaintiff in error:

"The record in this case shows that at the November term of the Circuit Court for the District of Rhode Island, 1848, the plaintiff in error brought a qui tam action against the defendants in error to recover penalties and forfeitures alleged to have been incurred by them under the Act of Congress passed February 3, 1831, entitled 'An act to amend the several acts respecting copyrights;' that at the June term of said court, 1850, the cause was submitted upon the general issue to a jury, who, in due form, returned a verdict in favor of the defendants in error, of 'not guilty,' whereupon judgment was entered, that they have and recover their costs of suit."

The record discloses no error in law, nor, to the knowledge of the defendants in error or of their counsel, was any error of law brought upon the record by the allowance of a bill of exceptions. The court has no choice, therefore, but to confirm the judgment below, with costs.

"SAMUEL AMES, for Defendants in Error"

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