Copyright disputes in the 1840s

Charles_Dickens_by_Daily_Joker.jpgWho is Charles Dickens ranting about in this letter to Henry Austin?

"Is it tolerable that besides being robbed and rifled, an author should be forced to appear in any form – in any vulgar dress – in any atrocious company – that he should have no choice of his audience – no controul [sic?]over his distorted text – and that he should be compelled to jostle out of the course, the best men in this country who only ask to live, by writing?"

The not entirely surprising answer: American Publishers. Read more about the debate at the Literary and Debating Society at the Mechanics' Institute of Montreal (now known as the Atwater Library and Computer Centre).