Fragments on the Freedom of the Press, Paris (1776)

Source: Cambridge University Library : Condorcet, 'Fragments sur la liberté de la presse' (1776), in Oeuvres (Firmin Didot 1847) tome II, p. 253

Fragments on the Freedom of the Press, Paris (1776), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

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Full title:
Fragments on the Freedom of the Press

Full title original language:
Fragments sur la liberté de la presse

Although Diderot and Condorcet probably held much the same views on the need for, and desirability of, the Enlightenment message being accessible to the whole French nation, the Marquis's proposed means for achieving this goal entailed a rather different concept of authorship. For Condorcet, the notion of an 'absolute author', whose work was the source of a natural property right, was theoretically and politically unacceptable. Consequently - as far as the provincial booksellers, in particular, were concerned - to avoid any harmful monopolies which could undermine the encouragement of learning, book trade privileges had to be invested with an ordinary definition: namely, that of favours formally granted by the king, in order to guarantee the reward that society owed to the authors of useful writings (see Gaultier's memorandum, f_1776). But Condorcet went even further still, since he did not consider the unjust principle of an exclusive right, even if it was a limited one, to be the most efficient way of helping authors to make a living from their writings. Although the editorial history of Condorcet's 'Fragments' still remains a complicated question, the radical and liberal views expressed in this document have been recognized as having a very strong influence on the revolutionary debates on intellectual property.

1 Commentary:


Related documents in this database:

Author: Marquis de Condorcet (1743-1794)

Publisher: Firmin Didot 1847

Year: 1776

Location: Paris

Language: French

Source: Cambridge University Library : Condorcet, 'Fragments sur la liberté de la presse' (1776), in Oeuvres (Firmin Didot 1847) tome II, p. 253

Persons referred to:
Alembert, Jean le Rond D'
Bacon, Francis
Bayle, Pierre
Bergman, Torbern Olof
Condorcet, Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, Marquis de
Descartes, René
Fontenelle, Bernard le Bovier de
Francis I
Galilei, Galileo
Gianone, Pietro
Huyghens, Christiaan
Kepler, Johannes
Mirabeau, Victor Riqueti, Marquis de
Montesquieu, Charles de Secondat, Baron de la Brède et de
Newton, Sir Isaac
Priestley, Joseph
Rousseau, Jean Jacques
Scheele, Carl Wilhelm
Stahl, Georg
Voltaire, François Marie Arouet de

Places referred to:

Cases referred to:

Institutions referred to:
University of Paris (Sorbonne)


Enlightenment, the
French Revolution
book trade
censorship, pre-publicatinon
price regulation
privileges, French
property theory, authors' property
public utility

Responsible editor: Frédéric Rideau

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