The Act was intended to provide an incentive for authors, artists and scientists to create original works, providing creators with a monopoly. Finally, in a case known as Midwinter v Hamilton (1743—174), London booksellers turned to common law and began a 30-year period known as the battle of the booksellers. In 1793, a new law was passed granting authors, composers and artists the exclusive right to sell and distribute their works, and the right was extended to their heirs and assigns for 10 years after the author's death. The new law is relatively limited in scope, protecting books, maps and graphics for only 14 years.
The origins of some of these rights can be traced back to ancient Greek culture, ancient Jewish law and ancient Roman law. The National Assembly placed this law firmly on a natural basis, calling it the Declaration of the Rights of Genius and thus evoking the famous Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.