Murray v Elliston; 3 May 1822

References: [1822] EngR 284, (1822) 5 B & A 657, (1822) 106 ER 1331
Links: Commonlii
The defendant represented Lord Byron’s tragedy of ‘Marino Faliero, Doge of Venice,’ on the stage, with some alterations from the printed tragedy.
Held: The manager of a theatre having publicly represented for profit a tragedy, altered and abridged for the stage, without the consent of the owner of the copyright, was not liable to an action, although the tragedy had been previously printed and published for sale.
‘The line of demarcation betwixt law and ethics must be strictly observed, and internal actions must not be made the objects of law. This doctrine was fully recognised by the Romans: whence the maxim, ‘Interna non curat praetor.’ When this fundamental distinction is violated, a door is opened at once to the most injurious and arbitrary invasions of the rights of individuals by the ruling power: and in general, wherever the judicial power is allowed to encroach too far on the widely extended domain of moral duties, it is in danger of becoming inconsistent and unjust.’
This case is cited by:

  • Cited – Prince Albert -v- Strange ChD ((1849) 1 H & Tw 1, 2 De G & SM 293, (1849) 1 Mac & G 25, Bailii, [1849] EWHC Ch J20, [1849] EngR 255, Commonlii, (1849) 41 ER 1171, [1849] EngR 261, Commonlii, (1849) 47 ER 1302, (1849) 2 De Gex & Sim 652)
    The Prince sought to restrain publication of otherwise unpublished private etchings and lists of works by Queen Victoria. The etchings appeared to have been removed surreptitiously from or by one Brown. A personal confidence was claimed.
    Held: . .