Simon Stern, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, has published Speech and Property in David Simple at 79 ELH: English Literary History 623 (Fall 2012). Here is the abstract.
Throughout Sarah Fielding's 1744 novel David Simple, conflicts over the citation, attribution, and withholding of others’ words are associated with property disputes and with acts of impersonation. The novel’s villains, driven by anxieties about scarcity, repeatedly seek to appropriate their victims’ material and verbal resources, reflexively categorizing them as a kind of property. These manipulative tactics — and the novel’s ambivalent attitude towards direct quotation — point to concerns implicit in contemporaneous thought about literary property, involving the problems associated with converting words into property and the difficulty of controlling what happens to them as a result.Download the article from SSRN at the link.