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Ap. Cas. 326, to the effect that the oral delivery of class-room lectures is not such a publication as to entitle any one to print them without permission of the author. The plaintiff in the case was Professor Caird, of the University of Glasgow, and the defendant a bookseller of that city, who had published certain lectures on moral philosophy, from notes taken by a student in the class-room. There was much difference of opinion on the point. The court of last resort in Scotland, thirteen judges sitting, was almost equally divided, and a vigorous dissenting opinion was delivered in the House of Lords. The action was resisted on the ground that a class of students in a university open to all is a “public audience,” and that delivery to them is a dedication to the public or an abandonment of the property which a lecturer has in his unpublished work. The Court denied both propositions, and held that lecturing to students is publication only for the purpose of instruction, and that hearers are admitted under an implied contract or condition not to publish what they hear.
We have received from Prof. Frederick Pollock, of London, a Moot Court decision involving the question whether a contract is complete on the mailing or on the receipt of the offeree’s acceptance of the offerer’s proposal. This point is one of great interest to students of the Harvard Law School on account of the forcible manner in which Prof. Langdell sustains, on the theory of offer and counter-offer, the result reached by the Massachusetts courts, that the letter must have been received by the offerer in order to make the promise binding. Prof. Pollock upholds the other view, regarding himself bound by the English law on this point. We quote the following:—
“According to the decision of the majority of the Court of Appeal in Household Ins. Co. v. Grant, the posting of the defendant’s letter was enough as against the plaintiff to convert the plaintiff’s offer into a binding promise, although, by an accident beyond the control of either party, the letter failed to reach the plaintiff. This is because the party who makes the offer of a contract by means of the public post to a person at such a distance that the post is the most obvious means of communication, is prima facie deemed to desire, or at any rate, authorize the offeree to send an answer by the like means, and, as an incident thereto, is deemed to take upon himself the risks of the mode of communication which he has authorized. . . . It has been suggested, again, that a difference is to be made between an offer which contemplates an act to be done by the other party, and an offer which contemplates a reciprocal promise; that acceptance must be communicated if it consists of a promise, but that where it consists in performing, the consideration for which a promise is offered by the proposer, communication is on general principles unnecessary; and that the true ground of the authorities is to be sought in this distinction. If this test were the correct one, the decisions on contracts to take shares, and therefore Household Fire Ins. Co. v. Grant, would not apply to a case like the present, in which the contract consists wholly in mutual promises. But we are bound not merely by the letter of adjudged cases, but by their declared and apparent reasons; and the suggestions
- 4 Ex. D. 216.
- Langdell, Sum. of the Law of Contracts, §§ 6, 14–16.