Monday, July 25, 2011

Hoyle in the Public Domain, Yet Pirates Persist

Perhaps the most amusing of all the Hoyles is the one dated 1778 edited by "Thomas Jones" and published by "W. Wood" of Fleet Street in London. It is a piracy of the 1775 edition edition edited by Charles Jones that I discussed in an earlier essay.

The bulk of both books is a straight reprint of Hoyle which, as we have seen, was off copyright as of 1774. But the new material added by Charles Jones certainly was protected by copyright, and the piracy is astonishing in its brazenness. First, compare the title pages, with Charles Jones on the left and Thomas Jones on the right.

The title is the same and the typography of the list of games is strikingly similar."Thomas Jones" must be a name intended to cause confusion with Charles Jones. Likewise, the publisher's name is invented. No London bookseller or printer named "W. Wood" appears in the British Book Trade Index in the late 18th century. It is a fictitious name reminiscent of those used by the earlier Hoyle pirates in 1743, W. Webster and W. Webb.

It is the verso of the title page that amuses. Compare the authorized "sixteenth" edition of Hoyle's Games (1775) with the 1778 piracy below.

Both passages "To the Reader" carry forward language from Francis Cogan in his 1743 battle against Hoyle pirates (see Levy p141). That passage and the Hoyle autograph appeared in all authorized editions from 1743 to 1775, the signature being reproduced with a woodblock after Hoyle's death in 1769. The note "To the Reader" was omitted in the 1775 Charles Jones Hoyle. The fictitious Wood notes the death of Hoyle and adds his "signature" in letterpress below the note. One wonders why the note was signed "W. Wood" rather than "Thomas Jones." Surely endorsement by a fake author is more assuring than that of a fake publisher!

Most of all, it is the plagiarism of the new material by Charles Jones that galls.I've picked a couple of passages about the games of billiards and hazard to show the blatancy of the plagiarism. The original Charles Jones text is on the left and "Thomas Jones" on the right.

A billiard table is usually about twelve feet long and six feet wide, covered with fine green cloth, and surrounded with cushions to prevent the balls rolling off, and make them rebound. (p202) The length of a billiard table is usually about twelve feet, and the breadth six feet, covered with fine green cloth, surrounded with cushions to prevent the balls rolling off, and make the rebound. (p189)
It is necessary to be perfectly master of these odds, so as to have them as quick as thought...(p225) A person ought to be perfectly master of these odds,, so as to have them as quick as thought...(p211)

I have no idea who printed the Thomas Jones/Wood piracies. The 1778 edition was followed by a second in 1779 (published by "T. Wood" and "signed" by him in type on the verso of the title page), and a third in 1782 (with the verso of the title page is blank). Nor do I know why only three editions appeared--I haven't located evidence of any litigation. Their brief appearance reintroduces piracy to the Hoyle landscape. 

The books edited by Charles Jones, on the other hand, continued to be reprinted for fifty years and were the clear successor to the line of Hoyles established during the author's lifetime.

No comments:

Post a Comment