May 1735: The Engravers’ Copyright Act receives royal assent. It extends the regulations of the Literary Act (‘Queen Anne’s Act’) of 1709 to prints, with a 14-year copyright. The publication of The Rake’s Progress prints was deliberately delayed until the Act took effect and appeared in August.
Hogarth had been the main promoter of the campaign in favour of the new Act, which came to be referred to as The Hogarth Act. The number of pirated prints diminished rapidly. The copyright period was extended from 14 to 28 years in 1767, but Hogarth himself allowed cheaper, ‘authorised’ copies to be made of his own prints.