"Securing" the Prophet's Copyright in the Book of Mormon: Historical and Legal Context for the So-called Canadian Copyright Revelation

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Journal: 50:2
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To read the extended version of this article click here.

The 2009 publication of the Manuscript Revelation Books as part of the Joseph Smith Papers makes available, for the first time, the text of a revelation received in 1829 or 1830 by the Prophet Joseph Smith on securing the copyright of the Book of Mormon in all the world and selling a copyright for its publication in the four then-existing provinces of Canada. This revelation, commonly referred to as the Canadian copyright revelation, designated four of Joseph’s associates to travel to Kingston, Upper Canada, to sell a copyright of the Book of Mormon. A group did travel to Kingston, but they were unsuccessful in finding a purchaser. Stephen Ehat’s study explores where the revelation was received, the dating of both the revelation and the group’s journey to Canada, the location of the four men mentioned in the revelation when it was given, the meaning in the revelation of the phrases “securing the copyright” and “sell a copyright,” the state of both U.S. and Canadian copyright law in 1830, the financial need that likely led to the revelation, and the reason Joseph’s messengers were sent specifically to Kingston.

To read the extended version of this article click here.