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Law Of Subscriptions

( Originally Published 1918 )

Subscription is the placing of a signature under a written or printed agreement. By such an act a person contracts, in writing, to pay a sum of money for a specific purpose; as a subscription to a charitable institution, a subscription for a book, etc.

Subscription Papers.—"The law on the subject of these subscription papers," says Parsons, "and of all voluntary promises of contribution, is substantially this: No such promises are binding unless something is paid for them, or unless some party for whose benefit they are made (and this party may be one or more of the subscribers), at the request, express or implied, of the promisor, and on the faith of the subscription, incurs actual expense or loss, or enters into valid contracts with other parties which will occasion expense or loss. As the objection to these promises, or the doubt about them, comes from the want of consideration, it may be removed by a seal to each name, or by one seal which is declared in the instrument to be the seal of each."

Book Subscriptions.—A person subscribing for a book is bound to take it when delivered by the agent, provided it corresponds with the sample copy shown him when the subscription was given. The agent or publisher may recover at law the price of the book should the subscriber refuse to take it when presented to him.

Newspapers and Other Periodicals.—There is no postal law regulating the transactions between publishers and subscribers. The ordinary rules of contract govern all relations between the par-ties concerned, and the postoffice has no part except to deliver the article, or return it when ordered to do so.

If the publisher of any paper or periodical sends his paper or magazine, the postmaster must deliver it, if the person to whom it is sent will take it. If he will not take it, the postmaster must notify the publisher.

If a person subscribes for a periodical for a given period, say one year, and the publisher sends it accordingly, the subscriber cannot terminate the contract by stopping his paper at any time during the year. But at the end of the year the subscriber may stop his paper even without paying the subscription due. He is under no legal obligation to take the paper another year. The fact that he has not paid for the expired year's subscription does not bind him to continue taking the paper. He can stop taking it at the end of the year and the publisher can sue for and collect his year's subscription only.

If at the end of the year the publisher continues to send his paper and the subscriber to receive it, the sending is the offer of another year's subscription at the same price, and the receiving of the paper is an acceptance. The implied contract from such action is a renewal of the subscription; and the publisher can send the paper for the renewed term of one year and collect the subscription price for that year as well as the preceding.

If the publisher advertises terms of subscription, all parties taking the paper under these conditions will be held according to the conditions.

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