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Prussian Statute Book (ALR) (1794)

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Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900)

Identifier: d_1794


Commentary on the Reprinting Provisions in the Prussian Statute Book (1794)

Friedemann Kawohl

Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management, Bournemouth University, UK


Please cite as:
Kawohl, F. (2008) ‘Commentary on the reprinting provisions in the Prussian Statute Book (1794)', in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

1. Full title

2. Abstract

3. Reprinting and privileges in Prussia before the reprinting decree of 1766

4. Reich v. Pauli and the reprinting decree of 1766

5. Fundamental rights within the Prussian Statute Book (ALR) and the proposed abolition of privileges

6. The editors of the ALR and the long way from the first draft to the enactment

7. The first draft version presented by Klein

8. Svarez's amendments in favour of the authors and a proposed two-year term of protection

9. The publisher Friedrich Nicolai's views on authors and translators

10. A commented synopsis of Svarez's draft and the enacted provisions

11. Penal law provisions

12. Conclusions

13. References



1. Full title
Reprinting Provisions in the Prussian Civil Code


2. Abstract
The Prussian Statute Book (ALR) of 1794 is the first body of legislation in the German lands to pronounce a general ban on reprinting without formalities. The ALR provisions based copyright on a publishing contract, entitling the publisher to sue for damages anyone undertaking a pirate edition. Publishers must, however, secure the authors' approval before publishing an amended edition, for which authors may enter into a contract with another publisher, as long as they buy up at wholesale prices any remaining copies of the first edition. Although the provisions were amended significantly in the Prussian Copyright Act of 1837 (d_1837a), the ALR remained effective as a legal framework until the German Civil Code (BGB) of 1900. This commentary looks at Prussian privilege practice and earlier copyright regulations, as well as at the discussions generated by the proposed copyright provisions in the ALR, and how these were amended. The ALR editors had originally envisaged substantially stronger rights for authors, but eventually the publisher Friedrich Nicolai's view on authorship as an ideally non-commercial activity helped to push through provisions favouring the publishers.


3. Reprinting and privileges in Prussia before the reprinting decree of 1766
Prussia experienced a flourishing of the book trade during the reign of Frederick II ‘the Great' (1740-1786), so that after Leipzig Berlin rose to be the second most important centre of German publishing. Despite, or, rather, perhaps because of the well-known fact that Frederick preferred to write and read exclusively in French and was not interested in German literature, the censorship in Prussia was more liberal than in Saxony and other German states: as an illustration of this one can point to how, for example, the publisher Richter, who was based in Altenburg (a small duchy adjoining Saxony), arranged for his books to be printed in Prussia "because," as he wrote to his colleague Nicolai in Berlin, "I know that they are not so strict in your city".[1]

Frederick II, adopting a classically mercantilist attitude in his famous Testament politique of 1752,[2] explained the benefits of fostering reprinting as follows:

"One can encourage the printing-offices - though this does involve a considerable outlay - both by [raising the level of] paper consumption and by [supporting] a branch of industry which doesn't seem to have occurred to the North yet: I mean reprinting. If a publisher buys just one copy of a book and then reprints it, he will thereby be saving his fellow-citizens from the need of having to send their money abroad, since they can acquire the desired work at home. As a result, all valuable books that are printed anywhere effectively become manuscripts for our publishers. But all this, of course, requires advances from the part of the government, and it is this which has until now prevented me from pushing forward this sphere of enterprise as vigorously as I would have liked."[3]

Prussia under Frederick II, however, never actively fostered a reprinting industry, as was the case in Austria at that time (cf. d_1781). "The Prussian government," in Pamela E. Selwyn's words,

"was generally quite willing to intervene with foreign powers on behalf of Prussian publishers whose books had been pirated. When Prussian publishers themselves engaged in pirating, however, the authorities, like those elsewhere, seem to have turned a blind eye [...] At least in the 1750s and 1760s, the Prussian government had the lamentable habit of bestowing privileges on local publishers for only slightly altered versions of already privileged works, and alteration in such cases could mean a mere change of format from quarto to octavo. What mattered was the lower price of the new edition, which was easy enough to manage when one did not have to pay the author and used smaller type and cheaper paper. This was a seemingly contradictory policy, reducing as it did the value of Prussian privileges."[4]

The notion of combating piracy with piracy, as set forth in the "Charter of a Publishers' Cooperative To Prevent Reprinting" (d_1765) was common practice, even if only at an informal level:

"In 1776, when the bookseller Brönner in Frankfurt am Main argued that the local town council should not pursue the pirate publisher of Friedrich Nicolai's novel Sebaldus Nothanker, he cited the lack of assistance he had received in Prussia when the notorious pirate Daniel Christoph Hechtel had reprinted seven of his books. But Nicolai, himself a Prussian publisher, was no safer from Hechtel's activities. The latter reprinted Moses Mendelssohn' Phädon and Thomas Abbt's Vom Verdienste. Cura's French grammar, the most frequently pirated of all of Nicolai's publications, was also reprinted by a Prussian, L.G. Faber, in Halle. The edition was confiscated. To be sure, but Faber was never required to pay the fine stipulated in Nicolai's general privilege."[5]

The Prussian government's award in 1765 of a privilege to the Berlin-based publisher Pauli for a cheap edition of a set of works that only a few years earlier had received a Prussian privilege favouring the original Saxon publisher Reich, awoke the protest of the Saxon publishers and eventually led to the reprinting decree of 1766.


4. Reich v. Pauli and the reprinting decree of 1766
On 9 January 1765, the Berlin-based publisher Johann Pauli was granted a privilege for publishing Gellert's works within the Prussian lands. Reprinting and the selling of reprints were punishable by a fine of 50 thaler. Pauli's application was facilitated by general tensions between Prussia and Saxony as a result of the Seven Years' War (1756-1763) and by the fact that Gellert's original Saxon publishers did not accept payment in Prussian currency, but insisted on French louis-d'or. The privilege was granted to Pauli despite the fact that three years earlier, on 30 January 1762, the Leipzig publisher Reich had received a Prussian privilege for the exclusive sale of his edition of Gellert's works within the Prussian lands. The title-pages of original and reprint copies of Gellert's Collected Works, bearing references to Electoral Saxon, Royal Prussian and Imperial privileges, serve as an apt illustration of this conflict (d_1765a).


Christian Fürchtegott Gellert (1715-1769), a professor of philosophy at Leipzig University, was one of the most popular authors in eighteenth-century Germany. His collection of fables was first published in 1746 by Johann Wendler (1712-1799) after Breitkopf had turned down the project. Gellert's fables turned out to be among the most successful titles on the eighteenth-century German book market. Wendler made a fortune out of Gellert's works before he eventually sold his publishing house, together with the copyrights, to Caspar Fritsch in 1766. The Leipzig publisher Philipp Erasmus Reich (1717-1787) was also able to acquire some original works of Gellert's. For a collection of works published in one volume in 1756, Reich paid 150 thaler per sheet - an exorbitant sum at that time compared to the usual 2-3 thaler per sheet, and in fact even more than the 125 thaler which Gellert had asked for![6] In 1768, Reich (who at the time was manager and associate of Weidmann's heirs) and Fritsch started a joint edition and brought out vols 1-5 (out of 10). Vol. 6 (d_1765a_im_001_0001) was eventually published in 1770, bearing references to Imperial and Electoral Saxon privileges. In Pauli's reprint edition (d_1765a_im_001_0002) even the layout of the title is copied straight from the Leipzig original.


Pauli not only sold his editions within Prussia, but also offered them for sale at the Leipzig fair, thus causing trouble with his Leipzig colleagues Reich and Fritsch. However, Prussian officials declared the Publishers' Association (d_1765) - of which Reich had been elected Secretary - to be an organisation of "publishers, some of them even natives of Prussia, who have the impudence to contest His Royal Majesty's right to grant privileges"[7] and suggested summarily that Prussian publishers and booksellers henceforth be forbidden from joining the Association. Reich, though, was well-informed about the situation in Prussia thanks to the Berlin publisher Christian Friedrich Voß (1722-1795), who was a member of the Association, and he explained his view on Pauli's reprints in a letter to Jean-Baptiste de Boyer, Marquis d'Argens (1703-1771), a French philosopher who at the time was effectively acting as Lord Chamberlain to Frederick the Great. Moreover, Reich himself had successfully applied for a Prussian privilege in 1762, as was noted above. As a result, on 21 August 1766 a decree banning reprints was issued by the Berlin Chief Constable Karl David Kircheisen (1704-1770) in the presence of all the Berlin publishers, who were summoned to the town hall for this purpose. Within just a month the Prussian Cabinet Order of 28 November 1766 (d_1766) was promulgated. Despite the general ban on reprints instituted by the latter, Pauli was nevertheless able to perpetuate his pirate edition of Gellert's works on the grounds of his Royal privilege. From 1775 onwards, however, the title-page of a new, revised edition from Leipzig included references to privileges not just from the Emperor and the Elector of Saxony, but also from the King of Prussia (d_1765a_im_001_0003).


The Prussian Cabinet Order of 28 November 1766 (d_1766) has been regarded as the first document "generally declaring the principle of illegality of reprinting for the Prussian lands"[8] The Prussian King (the document is signed by Frederick the Great himself) declares that he has had the Charter of the Publishers' Association set up in 1765 (d_1765) examined, and that he has ordered Councillor Karl David Kircheisen to announce to all local publishers a general ban on the reprinting of any publications. The Cabinet Order was thus a reaction to both the establishment of the Publishers' Association (d_1765) and to the dispute between Pauli and Reich. (d_1765a).


The situation now was, however, far from being unambiguous. The Cabinet Order had been confined to the "local" ("hiesigen"), that is, Berlin-based publishers, and Pauli's privilege for his cheap edition of Gellert's works was not revoked. Pauli thus felt at liberty to continue his reprinting activities, and he even went as far as to pirate books brought out by other Berlin publishers like Christian Friedrich Voß (1722-1795) and Haude & Spener. A number of Berlin publishers led by Voß requested on 21 April 1767 "a general prohibition of reprinting of published books across all lands of His Majesty the King of Prussia",[9] whether or not they were privileged, and no matter whether they were of domestic or foreign origin. Furthermore, it was explicitly demanded that Pauli be threatened with punishment if he continued to bring out reprints. The requested extension to cover foreign productions may also have been a consequence of the Leipzig Publishers' Association (d_1765). After Voß, Haude & Spener, Rüdiger, Mylius and Stahlbaum were contractually obliged to refrain from reprinting Saxon productions, it was in their interest to prevent local competitors from congesting their home market with cheap reprints, so that customers would come to their own bookshops to buy the original copies they had imported from Leipzig.


5. Fundamental rights within the Prussian Statute Book (ALR) and the proposed abolition of privileges
The Prussian Statute Book (or ALR) was an all-encompassing legal compilation consisting of 19,194 detailed single provisions. The multitude of details was intended to prevent any arbitrariness on the part of the judges. In addition to civil law provisions, the Statute Book also comprised commercial law, penal law, church law, administrative law, and constitutional law aspects, so it was considerably more than just a ‘Prussian Civil Code', as the ALR is sometimes referred to in English literature. The ALR was in force in the Prussian provinces until the enactment of the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (BGB) - which, in fact, is a Civil Code - on 1 January 1900.


It is a matter of debate among legal historians as to what extent human rights were acknowledged in the ALR, and how the relevant sections in it compare with such contemporary documents as the Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776) and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789). In Paragraph 83 of the preamble to the ALR we read:

"The general rights of man are based on the natural liberty whereby one may seek and promote one's own welfare without encroaching on the rights of someone else."[10]

Older literature on the subject followed the view of Hermann Conrad, who had stated in 1958 that the draft version of 1791 did include "a kind of catalogue of fundamental rights", whereas these features had been removed from the final version, partly as a result of the opposition to the French Revolution. More recent publications, however, stress that neither in the draft, nor in the final version, are individual fundamental rights explicitly stated, and that the intentions of the responsible editors Carl Gottlieb Svarez (1746-1798) and Ernst Ferdinand Klein (1743-1810) were in fact obstructive to the emergence of any kind of concept of a citizens' society based on liberty and equality.[11]


In contrast to the way it is understood nowadays, eighteenth-century writers on the subject of natural law regarded ‘natural freedom' in the same terms as those used in the preamble to the ALR, and 'natural equality' as being confined to humans in the state of nature: "When I am a subject, I renounce my [...] natural freedom,"[12] as expressed in a 1763 treatise on natural law by Joachim Georg Darjes (1714-1791), who was Svarez's teacher at university. Similarly, another jurist had stated in 1721 that men "renounced their natural equality as soon as they entered civil society."[13]


However, a broader concept of ‘equality' and (economic) 'liberty' started to gain currency when later economists and constitutional lawyers began to argue that the granting of privileges was in contravention to such principles. After the draft version was published in 1791, it was proposed that book privileges be abolished together, since

"it is rather odd that something which goes without saying according to all natural rights should first have to be obtained through the grant of a sovereign privilege."[14]

The unnamed commentator, who may or may not have been a member of the Prussian administration, apparently felt that privileges, being exemptions, would dilute the universality of the all-encompassing body of law, rather than taking the view that these exemptions constituted a restriction of general principles of freedom and equality. The anonymous comment, however, with its mercantilist and absolutist view on privileges as admissible means of controlling the economy, does fit into the natural law tradition which was still prevalent in Germany at the time. It was not before 1800 that a younger generation of German lawyers began to raise objections, such as that "any privilege is reprehensible also from the cosmopolitan point of view",[15] and that:

"The purpose of the association of the State is to preserve our private rights. Privileges, however, nullify the primal right of equality between men."[16]

Svarez's co-editor Christoph Goßler (1752-1816) agreed to the principal objection raised by the unnamed commentator, but argued that

"[although the objection] does seem to be significant, it will, however, be difficult to satisfy those who have been benefiting so far from the issuing of such privileges."[17]

Concerns over sufficient security and due process, as well as the fear of complaints from the privileged publishers eventually led to the privilege system being preserved in general, including also the protection of books imported into Prussia from other German states.[18] It continued to remain in place even after the considerably more advanced Prussian Copyright Act of 1837 (d_1837) until it was formally dropped in §. 71.1 of the Copyright Act of 1870 (d_1870).[19]


6. The editors of the ALR and the long way from the first draft to the enactment
The Prussian Statute Book came into force on 1 July 1794 as the Allgemeines Landrecht für die Preußischen Staaten (ALR) after fourteen years of preparations and discussions, and after the sudden withdrawal of a completed version which had been published in 1791 as the Allgemeines Gesetzbuch für die Preußischen Staaten (AGB).


Frederick II had commissioned the project in 1780 and entrusted general responsibility for it to the chancellor Johann Heinrich Carmer (1720-1801), who shortly afterwards appointed Svarez and, in 1781, Klein as his assistants.[20] The Prussian Ministry of Justice had no building of its own before 1799, and thus Carmer rented a house in 1786, where offices and apartments for himself and his two main collaborators were installed. Carmer presided over the team as a whole, in which Svarez had more of a leading role than Klein, although the latter is widely regarded to have been "almost on a par with Svarez" in terms of the contribution he made to the Statute Book.[21] The first draft of the copyright provisions was presented by Klein, but Svarez arranged for, and oversaw, further discussions, in which he introduced several amendments before the final version was produced.


Carmer, Svarez and Klein were all close to Enlightenment circles in Berlin. In 1781, Klein was among the founders of the Society of Friends of the Enlightenment (Gesellschaft von Freunden der Aufklärung), a semi-clandestine literary organisation, which outsiders generally referred to as the 'Mittwochsgesellschaft' (i.e. the ‘Wednesday Society' - cf. another more famous and older literary society in Berlin, the ‘Montagsklub'). Among its members were the school inspector Friedrich Gedicke (1754-1803) and the head of the Royal Library Johann Erich Biester (1749-1816), who were co-editors of the Berlinische Monatsschrift, a leading journal of the German Enlightenment, which published the notable essays on reprinting by Immanuel Kant (d_1785) and Johann Gottlieb Fichte (d_1793). Other members included Svarez and the publisher and author Friedrich Nicolai (1733-1811), who successfully lobbied for significant changes to the latest draft of the copyright provisions.


The (first) completed version of the statute book, then called Allgemeines Gesetzbuch für die Preußischen Staaten, was approved by Frederick William II in a Cabinet Order of 31 December 1789, and it started to be printed in the spring of 1790, "so that in the meanwhile the public might acquaint itself with the regulations to which it would henceforth have to conform its actions."[22] But only a few weeks before it was to come into force (on 1 June 1792), the enactment was suspended by a Cabinet Order of Frederick William II on 18 April. The reason, as explained in a review of 1810 by Svarez's later co-editor Goßler, was that the "liberal and humanistic principles, included by the express will of Frederick II, relating to the monarch's executive power and regalia, as well as to religion, the nobility and their manorial rights" ran contrary to the interests of the party which was then at the peak of its influence both in government and the court. [23] Furthermore, the new king was anxious to dispel any possible associations with the effects of the French Revolution - associations made, for example, in an anonymous article which appeared in a Thuringian journal and stated that:

"almost all of the so vigorously decried seventeen articles of the French Declaration of Human Rights are, in fact, to be found [either] in the Prussian Statute Book, sometimes in quite similar wording, albeit in a scattered fashion and chiefly in those places where [these articles] could be applied directly,"

and that the legislator

"had acted in accordance with the spirit of these forever inalienable rights."[24]

The changes from the Allgemeines Gesetzbuch to the ALR of 1794 concerned mainly constitutional issues, such as, for example, an amendment to Section 6 of the preamble, which in its original form, according to its opponents, had specified "that a sovereign order was to have no validity in matters still awaiting the outcome of a lawsuit".[25] The mystically-inclined king also insisted on replacing the original title of the body of legislation - ‘Statute Book‘ - with Landrecht (‘National Law'), so as to awaken associations with the medieval ‘Laws of the Land' (Landrechte) that existed in the various territories of the Holy Roman Empire. On 4 January 1794, Carmer announced the execution of the King's orders and handed over to Frederick William II the new statute book, now entitled Allgemeines Landrecht für die Preußischen Staaten (‘General National Law for the Prussian States').


Apart from a slightly different wording, the copyright provisions, as they stood at the end of 1790, went unchanged into the ALR. This means that the possibility of any influence from the famous French copyright acts of 1791 and 1793 (see f_1793) can be excluded.


The list below presents the various drafts and proposals for Prussian copyright legislation in chronological order:


1786-87 First draft worked out and presented by Klein.

1786-87 First amendment by Svarez, discussed within the Prussian administration and leading to further proposals from Scherer.

1787 Second amendment by Svarez, published on 20 December.[26] A general discussion on this draft was encouraged. Famous jurists, such as Pütter (d_1774), as well as the general public, were invited to offer comments and criticisms on the draft. Fifty-two expert opinions, most of them favourable, were received by the editors.[27]

1787-88 Extractus monitorum which provided in a two-column format excerpts from the invited comments and proposals regarding the criticised points (Lat. ‘monita') on the right, and comments by the assistant editor Goßler on the left.

early 1788[28] Svarez's Revisio Monitorum, i.e. a detailed revision of the criticised points.

1789-90 Completion of Svarez's manuscript of the Allgemeines Gesetzbuch.

1790 Letter of Friedrich Nicolai dated 6 December.

1790 Substantial changes incorporated into the manuscript by Svarez, in response to Nicolai's objections.


7. The first draft version presented by Klein
The first draft of the copyright provisions appeared in the chapter "On rights to objects" ("Vom Sachenrechte"), as part of the sub-chapter "On other kinds of contracts" ("Von ungenannten Verträgen"). The original heading "On publishers' property" was crossed out and replaced by the words "On publishing contracts", written in the same hand as the original text. Martin Löhnig has suggested that Klein "thereby wanted to ensure the validity of the principles being applied in this system [of legislation] to the realm of publishing right",[29] and to justify the subsumption of copyright provisions under the sub-chapter "On other kinds of contracts". Klein's draft, however, was the only one in which the term "property" was used at all (in §.80): subsequently this term was avoided by the editors. This original draft consisted of just ten sections:

"§ 78 A publishing right entitles one to reproduce a work by means of printing.

§ 79 Without the consent of the author or his heirs, nobody can, as a rule, acquire a publishing right.

§ 80 Once a publishing right has been ceded, it remains the property of the person who has acquired it.

§ 81 Reprinters are to be subject to a fine of 100 ducats, and the copies they have printed are to be destroyed.

§ 82 Translations of already published books are to be treated as new works.

§ 83 A privilege can be applied for by those wishing to bring out new editions of foreign authors whose publishers visit the Leipzig or Frankfurt fairs.

§ 84 New editions of works by older authors from whom, or from whose heirs, no publisher has acquired a publishing right, are permitted.

§ 85 Simple reprints of editions which appeared less than thirty years ago are not allowed.

§ 86 If someone wishes to arrange for annotations to the works of still living writers to be published, then these annotations must be printed separately.

§ 87 Such annotations may be incorporated into the work itself only with the consent of the author and his publisher."[30]

Most decisive features were already covered in it. Only a publisher's property in the publication right is acknowledged, albeit conditional on the "consent of the author or his heirs". The draft was in accordance with Pütter's (d_1774) concept of a publisher's property based on a contract for the acquisition of the manuscript, and also with Klein's own general view of property, which was informed by Pufendorf and Grotius rather than by Locke, in the sense of regarding property as a "natural freedom" rather than as a consequence of the "labour" exerted by an individual.[31] Within such a Grotian framework it made sense that no intellectual property existed at all before a publishing contract was agreed on. (In a more modern approach, based on the Lockean labour theory, an intellectual property would result from the author or publisher's labour, but not from a mere contract). On the other hand, in Klein's draft, the author (or his heirs) did have to give his (or their) consent, in order for this creation of a publisher's property to be valid in the first place, and, moreover, the author, together with his publisher, retained the right to consent to, or reject, annotated reprints of his work.[32]


8. Svarez's amendments in favour of the authors and a proposed two-year term of protection
The effect of Svarez's first set of additions and amendments in 1787 was to restrict the rights of the publishers in favour of the authors (although his proposals were eventually cut back substantially as a result of the publisher Nicolai's objections). The publisher's right, according to Svarez's revision of the draft, was to be confined to the first edition (§.715 - see also the table below), and a publisher wishing to bring out a new edition had to ask for the consent of the author or the latter's heirs (§.716). On the other hand, the author could exercise his right to publish an amended edition with another publisher only after the first edition had sold out (§.718), or, alternatively, if he himself was prepared to buy up all remaining copies of the first edition still in stock (§.719).


The question came up as to whether these restrictions were still not sufficiently favourable to authors, and Sebastian Anton Scherer (d.1791),[33] a member of the legislation committee, proposed to have the first publisher's exclusive right limited to just two years. From Svarez's marginal notes to his first amended draft we know about Scherer's proposal and what Svarez had to say about it:

"Mr Scherer is of the opinion that the publisher should not be able to prevent the author from undertaking a second, enlarged and improved, edition, as long as the publisher of the first edition has had sufficient time to sell [all] copies of this edition. [Mr Scherer suggests that] the condition of sufficient time is met if the publisher has been able to present the book in question at the Leipzig fair for two years in succession. This space of time, though, would probably be too brief for large and expensive works. The principles adopted here earlier [i.e. that the author had to wait until the first edition had been successfully marketed] would indeed hinder the propagation of scholarship and tie down the author too much, for the availability of a [suitable] publisher [for a new edition] is something that is beyond his control [and, therefore, forcing him to not undertake anything until the first edition is sold off could ruin his chances of publishing an improved version of his work]"[34]

Svarez suggested the following modification to Scherer's proposal for limiting the first publisher's exclusive right (with which he essentially agreed):

"In cases of doubt, if no longer or shorter period has been specified [contractually], the publishing right is to be effective for only twenty years."[35]

However, neither Scherer's limitation to two years, nor Svarez's twenty-year term were eventually adopted in the print draft which served as the basis for further discussions.


Scherer, appointed a Justizrat (a rank equivalent to King's Counsel) in 1750, was older than both Svarez and Klein and belonged to a generation unaccustomed to the concept of professional authorship. Therefore, his radical proposal in favouring the author's rights seems quite startling. It may, in fact, have been motivated by a case he had been involved in ten years previously, [36] when the poet Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (1724-1803) applied for a Prussian privilege in a letter of 1 May 1778, addressed to the Minister of Justice Ernst Friedemann Baron von Münchhausen (1724-1784). The letter was undersigned by Klopstock, but had been drafted on the author's behalf by the already mentioned librarian Johann Erich Biester, who at the time was working as secretary to the Prussian Minister of Education Karl Abraham Baron von Zedlitz (1731-1793).


Klopstock had intended to publish his great religious epic Der Messias (The Messiah) on a subscription basis, hoping that he would receive a Prussian privilege for this. However, Carl Hermann Hemmerde in Halle, who had published earlier editions of the first cantos of the epic, claimed to have an unlimited publishing right to Der Messias, allegedly based on a contract with the author. Klopstock protested that such a provision had not been part of his publishing contract with Hemmerde, which was, moreover, for just one edition. As can be seen from a note written into the margin of the original letter, Münchhausen passed it on to Scherer, instructing him to arrange for Hemmerde to be interrogated on the case by the magistrate in Halle. Eventually the Prussian privilege was refused on the grounds that Klopstock had not been able to come to terms with Hemmerde.


Scherer, and probably also the main editors of the Statute Book, had at least a basic knowledge of that case, in which one of the most famous German authors of the age had been tied down by a contract with a dodgy publisher, who had only come to an agreement with the author after publishing an unauthorised version and who had refused to pay him adequately.[37] Klopstock v. Hemmerde may also have induced Svarez to add those provisions confining the publisher's right to the first edition (§§.715 f. of the published draft, see the table below).


In Klein's draft the author, after concluding the publishing contract for a limited thirty-year term, only retained the exclusive right of giving or withholding his consent to annotated reprints of his works. In Svarez's revised version, however, the author kept a much more important right: for now the publisher was obliged to obtain the author's consent for every new edition. This substantial amendment was maintained, albeit attenuated after Nicolai's objections, right through to the final enactment.[38]


As members of the ‘Mittwochsgesellschaft' (see Section 6 above), it is almost certain that Klein and Svarez attentively read the Berlinische Monatsschrift, edited by their fellow club members Biester and Gedicke, and in which Kant's essay on reprinting (d_1785) had been originally published. Kant's proposals were not directly adopted by the editors of the ALR. But it is possible that the moral rights aspect implicit in Svarez's decision to provide authors with an exclusive right to new editions may have been inspired by Kant's emphasis on how much was at stake for the author in the publication of his work. True, Svarez did not actually adopt Kant's concept of a personal, unalienable right vested in the author, but, like the great philosopher, he did also refrain from invoking any notions of intellectual property. When the assistant editor Goßler argued that the relationship between author and publisher was covered entirely by the theory of sales and purchase, Svarez protested:

"The relationship between an author and his publisher can in no way be considered in terms of the theory of sales and purchase. The ownership of the work itself, in as far as it is an intellectual product, is not transferred to the publisher at all: rather, the latter merely acquires the distribution right [to the work], that is, the right to reproduce the work by means of printing [and to sell these copies]."[39]

Thus, Svarez, like Kant, refrained from introducing any notion of intellectual property as such. But whereas Kant had described the publisher's function as that of "conducting business in the name of another person",[40] Svarez proceeded from the assumption that the publisher acquires not a property right to the work, but, rather, a licence to reproduce it.


9. The publisher Friedrich Nicolai's views on authors and translators
Friedrich Nicolai was one of the most important publishers in eighteenth-century Berlin. Since his opinion on Svarez's draft had a decisive effect in causing substantial changes to the ALR provisions which favoured publishers as opposed to authors, it is worth considering his attitude towards contemporary authors and their profession as such. The views which Nicolai put into the mouth of the hero of a satirical novel he published in 1773 (discussed below), were to some extent re-iterated in the letter which he sent to the editors of the Statute Book.


Nicolai was educated at a boarding school in Halle, a stronghold of Pietism, and in later years showed an aversion to all kinds of religious fundamentalism. After an apprenticeship as a bookseller he took over his father's bookshop in Berlin, in 1759. The reprinting of original English literature was amongst his earliest enterprises as a publisher:

"In the early 1760s, he conceived the grandiose plan of reprinting the best works of English literature to make them available at lower prices than the expensive imports. Although the project began and ended with the ten-volume Works of Alexander Pope (1762-64), since few Germans could read English in the 1760s, it was a highly innovative idea that won Nicolai praise at that time."[41]

More lucrative were his review journals: the weekly Briefe, die neueste Literatur betreffend (Letters Concerning the Latest Literature, 1759-1765); the Bibliothek der schönen Wissenschaften und der freyen Künste (Library of Fine Arts, 1757-1760); and his most important periodical, the Allgemeine deutsche Bibliothek (German General Library, 1765-1792), which reached an all-time circulation high during the 1770s, with more than 2,500 copies being printed of each issue.


Nicolai was a major publisher and editor, but he also won acclaim as an author. His satirical novel The Life and Opinions of Sebaldus Nothanker (Das Leben und die Meinungen des Herrn Magister Sebaldus Nothanker) was first published in 1773.[42] In Chapter 2 of the second volume Nicolai gives some interesting details on the book market. Here it is worth taking a closer look at Nicolai's satirical remarks on "works for hire" and on the market for translations, since these were the two areas of the Prussian copyright legislation which were substantially amended in the light of Nicolai's proposals in December 1790.


In this novel the aspiring author Sebaldus travels to the Leipzig fair, where he is initiated into the real workings of the book market during a conversation he has with an old proof-reader, "who knew everything there was to know about the publishers' and authors' business".[43] Sebaldus's naively high esteem for authors as scholars "eager to communicate useful knowledge to the world and to promote truth and wisdom"[44] is rectified by the proof-reader:

"What the authors want is to give the publisher as few sheets of manuscript as possible for as much money as they can get out of him. The publisher, for his part, wants to purchase as many quires [= 25 sheets] as possible for as small a sum as possible, and then to sell [the work] at the highest conceivable price. Authors are keen on expending the least possible time, effort, thought, and skill on their books, yet with the hope of reaping as much glory, reward, and promotion as possible."[45]

In the proof-reader's view, many authors worked like hired day-labourers:

"There are quite a few publishers around who commission their authors to write works which they think will sell easily: Stories, Novels, Murder Mysteries, Trustworthy Accounts... of things which one hasn't seen [!], Proofs... of things which one doesn't believe in, Reflections... on things which one doesn't understand. To produce such books, a publisher has no need of authors who have made a name for themselves: what he needs are simply scribblers who can fill sheets of paper by the ell. In fact, I know a publisher who has up to ten or twelve such authors sitting at a long table in his house, and to each of them he assigns the task that he must complete so as to earn his daily wages."[46]

And after reflecting on the consequences of the traditional barter trade between publishers - namely, "that the publisher who has the worst books stands to gain most by it because he will easily obtain something better in exchange"[47] - the proof-reader goes on to explain how the "translation factories" worked. To Sebaldus's objection: "But surely translations are not like garments that can be woven on a loom!" the proof-reader retorts:

"And yet, you know, they are manufactured almost in the same way: it is just that, as with the stitching of socks, you only have to use your hands and not your feet as well, as is the case when weaving. And I assure you, Sir, that the army is not stricter in the orders it sets for the punctual supply and delivery of shirts and socks for its soldiers than the publishers are with regard to the supply of translations of French works, since in these factories such translations are considered to be the meanest, but also the most marketable wares."[48]

Some translators even tried to pass off their translations as original works by cutting the initial and final sections! According to the old proof-reader, translators were even more dependent on publishers, agents, and commissioners than original authors. Furthermore, when a publisher needs some quires (an old printer's measure for 23-25 sheets) to barter at a book fair,

"he will look through all new, as yet unpublished books and choose that whose title appeals to him most. And once he has found a suitable labourer for the task (which isn't that difficult, in fact) - one who is able to get through three quires of text by the time of the next fair - he and that translator will haggle with each other over [the fee for translating] the poor Frenchman or Englishman, just like two butchers wrangling over an ox or wether to be slaughtered, taking into account the reputation [of the author who is to be translated] or sometimes even just calculating the price per weight [i.e. quantity of text]. The one who has sold at the highest possible price or purchased as cheaply as possible imagines that he has pulled off a bargain. After that, the translator takes home the poor victim and either slaughters it himself or entrusts this to someone else.

Sebaldus: To someone else? What do you mean by that?

The proof-reader: Ah, that's what I meant when I compared the whole thing to a factory process. You see, there are certain famous persons who undertake translations on a large scale - rather like an Irish caterer responsible for supplying salt meat to a fleet of Spanish ships - and who do this by allotting them to their various ‘sub-translators'. These famous individuals are the first to hear about all new translatable books that have appeared in France, Italy, and England, just like a broker in Amsterdam will be the first to find out about the arrival of Dutch East India Company ships at the port of Texel [Tessel]. All booksellers in need of translations turn to the services of these persons, who, in their turn, know what tasks are most suited to each of their labourers and how much their wages are to be rated. They pass on the work to the industrious ones and punish those who are slack by withholding from them their protection; the only work they do themselves is perhaps to correct any faults in the translations they have ordered, or simply just to varnish them with their illustrious names. For entrepreneurs of this kind are usually very good at penning prefaces. They also know very well how much effort exactly has to be put into each type of translation, and what means they have to use, so that their translations are praised far and wide and the public expresses its gratitude to the worthy man who has thus done so much for the German scholarly world."[49]

Like his friends and collaborators Moses Mendelssohn and Lessing, Nicolai was full of enthusiasm for the Enlightenment ideals of learning and diffusing knowledge. He sought to improve the literary tastes and style of Germany's reading public and authors by acquainting them with foreign literature, and he certainly did not rejoice in the situation described by the old proof-reader, which is, of course, not free of a certain degree of satirical exaggeration. However, when Nicolai in 1790 suggested some final amendments to the copyright provisions of the Statute Book, he appears to have adopted the proof-reader's view on indentured authors and translators. The astonished question of the naïve Sebaldus: "You call scholarship a craft? Book-writing a trade?" ("Gelehrsamkeit ein Handwerk? Bücherschreiben ein Gewerbe?") does, in fact, reflect the pragmatic view of a publisher as seasoned and hardened as Nicolai was.


10. A commented synopsis of Svarez's draft and the enacted provisions
The publishers and their interests were one of the focal points of the Prussian copyright provisions of 1794. As discussed above (in Section 8), Svarez's amendments to Klein's draft had given stronger rights to authors with regard to their publishers. Some of these changes, however, were not incorporated into the enacted statute. Decisive arguments were brought forward in a memorandum by Friedrich Nicolai dated 6 December 1790. Over 45 pages he set forth his objections to almost every section of the published draft and concluded by proposing a completely new one.[50] There is no extant evidence that Nicolai had actually been invited to submit his opinion,[51] and it is not clear either why it came so late. Bearing in mind that Nicolai published a law journal (Annalen der Gesetzgebung und Rechtsgelehrsamkeit in den preussischen Staaten, 1788-1809),[52] that his bookshop was the best-stocked in Berlin in terms of law books, and that he regularly attended the 'Mittwochsgesellschaft' (a literary society restricted to at most twelve members), where he met Klein and Svarez, the introductory sentence to his memorandum seems implausible:

"It is only quite recently that I found out that something concerning the publishing right of booksellers has been specified in the draft of the new Statute Book."[53]

Moreover, one cannot help asking why Svarez agreed so readily to incorporate such substantial changes into his most recent draft, which had been the result of long discussions and a lot of work.


We have no answer to this question, but we can demonstrate the impact of Nicolai's petition by comparing nine key provisions in the enacted statute book (ALR) with how these were formulated (if at all) in the printed draft version of 1790 (Svarez).[54]


(1) Copyright comprises the exclusive right to sell copies.

Svarez's definition of copyright (or publishing right, Verlagsrecht) entailed just the right to exclusively copy a work, whereas the ALR also added an exclusive right of sale, in order to prevent authors from selling self-published editions alongside (and in competition with) the editions of their appointed publishers. The extra second half of the sentence followed Nicolai's proposal word for word.




§. 712 Copyright consists in the right to reproduce a work by means of printing.

§. 996. Copyright consists in the right to reproduce a written work by means of printing, and to sell it exclusively at fairs, to the booksellers, or otherwise.


(2) First owner of copyright.

According to Svarez (§.713), the publisher's copyright could be acquired only with the consent of the author, whereas in the ALR (§.998) this is just referred to as something that happens generally or as a rule ("in der Regel"), since exemptions for works undertaken merely for payment are included further on in §§.1021f. Nicolai had objected that there were

"very many works where it is the publisher who has the original idea, and who makes use of the writer merely as an instrument for the realisation of his idea."[55]


He explained at great length that publishers needed to be awarded directly an exclusive copyright for journals, almanacs and travel guides, whose structure and content they have planned and overseen.




§. 713 Without the consent of the author or his heirs, it is impossible to acquire the copyright to a work.

§. 714. Publishing contracts are, like all other contracts, to be drawn up in writing.

§. 998. As a rule, a bookseller can acquire the copyright only by making a written contract with the author.


(3) Written and oral contracts

Publishing contracts had always to be set out in writing according to Svarez (§.714), whereas the ALR did allow oral agreements, these being binding only with respect to the fee, but not with regard to the agreed number of copies. Later commentators of the Prussian Statute Book have argued that the formula "in der Regel" ("as a rule") in §.998 meant that an oral contract was regarded as sufficient when the fee due to the author did not exceed 50 thaler.[56] As for his remarks on §.714 of Svarez's draft, Nicolai minces no words when expounding his views on the majority of contemporary authors. In fact, the views expressed here turn out to be even more critical than those which the old proof-reader had shared with Sebaldus Nothanker in the satirical novel of 1773:

"It will be very difficult to persuade most scholars to subject themselves to such formalities, especially if they are renowned authors. A great deal of writers are slovenly in business matters and often very stubborn. Some of them also like to keep a back-door open for themselves, if they receive advance payments etc. The writer is in a far better position to force the publisher into a written contract than the other way round, and I can confidently say that it is ten times more likely that, where publication and payment are concerned, the publishers should suffer an injustice from the part of the writers than the other way round. If one wishes to consider the transaction between a writer and his publisher in its true light, then all one has to do is to bear in mind that true scholars are the smallest minority amongst all those who delve in writing. For, unfortunately, writing has become a profession like any other. An overwhelming majority of ‘authors' simply want to make a living out of their writing. Therefore, they will do everything to fill whole sheets of manuscript, regardless of quality, and to then sell these for the highest possible price, so that they can spend the rest of their days in idleness and financial freedom of mind. It would be very much better both for the State and for the true progress of literature if most of these persons either prepared themselves adequately so that they could serve the State as officials, or if they simply did manual labour of some kind. The publishers, on the other hand, are valuable citizens of the State who have to undertake various enterprises, since otherwise they would not be able to carry on their business."[57]

Nicolai's two-pronged argument is very insidious and crafty, since he not only asserts that writers are not interested in written contracts anyway because they are "slovenly", "stubborn", and prone to deceitful actions; but even claims that, even if they were interested in entering formal contracts, they would not be worthy of any such protection because of their idleness and - in contrast to the publishers! - uselessness to the State.




No corresponding provisions

§. 999. If such a written contract has not been made, but the manuscript has been delivered by the writer, then an oral agreement will be treated as binding, as far as the fee promised to the author is concerned, but in every other respect the circumstances of the two parties are to be judged solely according to the statutory provisions.


(4) Transfer of copyright for only one edition

The general restriction of publishing contracts to the first edition, as envisaged by Svarez, is maintained in the ALR, but modifications to this stipulation are now made possible if agreed contractually. The author's right to decide whether a new edition could be undertaken by the first publisher was inheritable according to Svarez, whereas §.1020 allows for the possibility of a clause in the contract excluding the author's heirs from this right.




§ 715. The copyright, as a rule, applies only to the first edition of a work.

§ 716. If the publisher wishes to arrange for a new edition, he must come to terms about this with the author or his heirs.

§ 1016. On the other hand, the copyright, as a rule, unless otherwise agreed in the written contract, extends only to the first edition of the work, including any subsequent volumes and sequels.

§. 1017. Thus, the first publisher can never undertake a new edition without having made a new contract about this with the author.

§. 1020. The author's right whereby no new edition may be undertaken without his being consulted beforehand, is transferred - unless otherwise explicitly stipulated in writing - to his heirs.

(5) Works undertaken solely for payment

As part of his annotations to §.713, Nicolai proposed the possibility of a direct acquisition of copyright by publishers who commission writers for a specific task. This original publisher's right is effectively a precursor of the "works made for hire" provision within the United States Copyright Act of 1976. With regard to translations, Nicolai even suggested that the publishers of these should in general be awarded a full original copyright:

"In the case of translations one can assume that they have been carried out by order of the publisher, unless a literary contract has been drawn up to the contrary [i.e. a contract like those normally concluded with authors of original literary works]."[58]

The ALR followed Nicolai's proposal on the whole, but did not predetermine a general publisher's copyright for translations. The Prussian Copyright Act of 1837 (d_1837), on the other hand, completely refrained from any such 'works made for hire' provisions, in contrast to the relevant section of the Baden Civil Code (d_1809) and the 1846 Austrian Law for the protection of literary property (d_1846).




No corresponding provisions

§. 1021. The abovementioned restrictions of the copyright in favour of the author shall not apply if the bookseller has entrusted a writer with the task of preparing a work based on an idea that he, the bookseller, had conceived, and if the writer takes on this task without making any
specific reservation in written form; or where the bookseller has engaged several authors to work together on the execution of such an idea.

§. 1022. In such cases the full copyright belongs to the bookseller from the very start, and the author(s) cannot claim any right to subsequent impressions and editions beyond what has been explicitly reserved for them in the written contract.


(6) Transfer of copyright limited to a certain number of copies.

The author's right to contractually limit the number of copies would have been exercised by all authors under the system of obligatory written contracts envisaged by Svarez. The ALR, however, as we have seen, did not explicitly prescribe such contracts, and as a result only those authors who were skilled negotiators would have known that they had to insist on the publisher drawing up a formal written contract, which would allow them to limit the number of copies.




§. 717. The publisher is not allowed to print off more copies of the work than the number specified in the contract.

§. 1013. If the publishing contract does not specify the number of copies of the first impression, then the publisher is entitled to arrange subsequent new impressions without the explicit consent of the author.

§. 1014. If, however, the number has been specified, then the publisher wishing to undertake a re-impression must come to terms about this with
the author or his heirs.

§. 1015. If the parties involved are unable to come to an understanding about this, then half of the fee paid for the first impression/edition is
to be taken as a standard.


(7) Author's obligation to buy remaining copies.

As a consequence of the general restriction of publishing contracts to only the first edition, the author is obliged to buy any unsold remaining copies of the latter, in order to compensate the publisher for his losses. The author's liability to pay the ‘Buchhändler-Preis' (the retail price minus the bookseller's discount), as stipulated in §.1019 of the ALR, rather than the acquisition price, however, was a very tough hurdle to clear for authors - all the more so in those cases when the number of copies of the first edition was not limited, and the first publisher would always try to keep enough copies in stock (especially of bestsellers).


It is worth following in some detail the discussion generated by §. 719 of the draft, since it was in this very provision that the counterbalance of the author's bargaining power vis-à-vis his publisher was defined. F. W. L. Bornemann[59] interpreted §.719 of the draft as an obligation for the author to pay the retail price, a provision that he claimed had been criticised in some of the opinions received by the editors, and which was therefore subsequently modified by Svarez in favour of the author. However, Voigtländer's excerpts from the files are quite clear in this respect: the author's obligation to pay the retail price was first proposed in one of the external opinions and recorded in the Extractus monitorum. The assistant editor Goßler's reply to this was as follows:

"It would be better [if the author paid] a reimbursement of the received fee, (and defrayed the publisher's printing costs). This would mean that an author wanting to improve his work would not be so dependant on his [first] publisher."[60]

Nicolai had also suggested that an author who wished to collaborate with another publisher to produce an amended edition ought to pay the retail price. However, if the author insisted on a new edition and the first publisher was willing to bring this out as well, then the author had to pay, by way of compensation, a sum just 10 percent above the publisher's acquisition price, and the latter would keep the remaining copies as waste-paper (‘Makulatur').


In his Revisio monitorum Svarez agreed with a number of the opinions received which argued that §.719 would

"put the author far too much at the mercy of his publisher, especially if the number of copies was not stipulated in the first contract. Thus, it would be more sensible to lay down the following: that the writer can undertake a new edition once the publisher, through sales of the first edition, has recouped his outlay on the latter, as well as the fee he paid to the author plus regular interests; and that if the author is willing to pay any outstanding sum [on the debit side of the publisher's balance], the publisher has no right of objection."[61]

Obviously both Goßler and Svarez had originally envisaged a reimbursement of the publisher's expenses, rather than an obligation to pay the retail price, when an author wanted to bail out of the publishing contract. The wholesale price stipulated by the ALR was thus a compromise with the objections received by the editors.




§. 718. On the other hand, the author, too, is not allowed to undertake a second edition for as long as copies of the first edition are still available, and until he has come to terms about this with his previous publisher.

§. 719. If the number of copies has not been specified in the contract, the author must, before proceeding with a new edition, buy all copies of the first, or come to terms about this with his previous publisher.

§. 1018. But the author, too, cannot undertake
a new edition until the first publisher has sold
[all copies of] the impressions legitimately
carried out by him in accordance with §. 1013 and §. 1014.

§. 1019. If the author and bookseller are
unable to come to terms regarding a new edition, then the former, should he wish to publish such a new edition with another publisher, must first of all buy up from the first publisher all copies of the first edition still in stock, paying him the retail price of these in cash.

(8) Copyright term for publishers, not authors.

Svarez's draft appears to have limited the publisher's, but not the author's, exclusive right to a twenty-year term post publication. Svarez's final manuscript had even confined the term to just ten years for works costing less than 1 thaler.[62] Nicolai's proposal was for an eternal publisher's copyright, albeit not without providing a fair remuneration for the author's "immediate heirs" (spouse and children):

"So long as the author and his immediate heirs are still alive, the publisher must come to fair and reasonable terms with them as far as new editions are concerned. After their death the copyright remains in the possession of the current publisher [i.e. the one who had produced the latest edition]."[63]

This procedure serves as a neat demonstration of how eighteenth-century German publishers strategically conceded certain rights to the authors, in order to eventually secure further rights for themselves. In support of his proposal Nicolai also claimed that this had been the custom so far in Germany, Holland and France. Nicolai's proposal was not adopted as such in the final version of the ALR, but, all the same, the provision in Suarez's original draft restricting the publisher's exclusive copyright to twenty years was dropped.




§. 720. All these restrictions on the author (§§. 718, 719), however, do not apply if the first edition appeared twenty or more years earlier, and if no longer duration of the copyright was agreed on beforehand in the contract.

deleted without substitution


(9) Perpetual copyright for publishers, not authors.

In contrast to the United Kingdom after Donaldson v. Becket (uk_1774), there was no agreed standard within the German lands as to how long a publisher's copyright could be exercised for. Pütter had claimed in 1774

"that every legitimately acquired copyright persists, as long as the publishing house which had carried out the original publication continues to be run, by heirs or other successors, using the same or also a new trade name."[64]


Nicolai, though he did not refer to Pütter, made a similar observation:

"Hitherto it has been standard practice in all countries that after an author's death, if it should unexpectedly be the case that further new editions of his works are to be produced, the copyright is always retained by the previous publisher [i.e. the one who had brought out the latest new edition]"[65]

Svarez's draft had, albeit ambiguously, limited the publisher's right to those publishers ("Buchhändler"), not publishing houses ("Buchhandlungen"), who had acquired their copyright directly from the authors or their heirs. According to §.716, the author's right to give or withhold his approval for new editions was inheritable without any explicit restrictions as to the term of validity or the grade of kinship. The great length at which Nicolai dwelt on this point in his letter,[66] suggests how important this matter was for him, and eventually he did succeed in completely overturning the intention of the original draft: the ALR includes a restriction whereby the author's right can be transferred only to his children and extends the right of the publisher - who in Svarez's draft needed to have personally acquired his right from the author or his heirs - to a perpetual right of the "publishing house", which, for all extents and purposes, may well have bought its copyright from anybody.




§. 725. It is permitted to reprint new editions of works by a deceased author, to which any copyright acquired previously by a publisher, either from the author himself or his heirs, has expired.

§. 1029. If there is no publishing house left which has a copyright to the new edition of a book, and the author's right according to §. 1020
has also expired, then anyone is entitled to undertake a new edition of the work.

§. 1030. However, if in such a case any of the author's children are still alive, the new publisher must make arrangements with them regarding the edition which he wishes to undertake.

§. 1031. Moreover, all the conditions that are stipulated for new works are to apply to the relationship between this new publisher and the writer who prepares the new edition for publication.

§. 1032. The reprinting of such editions, too, is forbidden where those very same circumstances apply, under which the reprinting of a new work, in accordance with the above regulations, is not allowed.


11. Penal law provisions

Apart from the civil law regulations on authors' and publishers' rights, the ALR did also contain some penal law provisions on reprinting and the book trade. Since the system of book privileges had not yet been abandoned, these provisions stipulated fines for such violations. Of particular interest is the injunction (in §. 1297c) that authors were not allowed to participate in the book market when trading their own books on their own account.

"Title 20: ‘On crimes and their punishment'

Section 15: ‘On encroachments on property through criminal self-interest and deceit'


6) The reprinting of books

§. 1294. Books for which a subject of the Prussian crown has the publishing right are not to be reprinted by anyone.

§. 1295. If the legitimate publisher has obtained an explicit privilege, then the reprinter of a book which has such a privilege printed on the first pages [before the work itself], or whose title-page (or its verso) bears an indication of this privilege's content, is liable to the penalty specified in the privilege.

§. 1296. a) Even if the punishment specified in a particular privilege is not acted out, the reprint copies must nevertheless, on request of the legitimate publisher, be confiscated and made unusable for sale; or they are to be handed over to the rightful publisher if he so wishes.

§. 1296. b) However, in the latter case the legitimate publisher who wishes to take over the reprint copies must take into account the expenses made by the reprinter in producing these and offer this sum as compensation to the latter, or if such compensation is not appropriate [i.e. because the sum would exceed the penalty which the reprinter was liable to pay to the fiscal authorities], the legitimate publisher must pay this sum into the penalty box [of the adjudicating court].

§. 1297. a) Insofar as reprinting as such is forbidden, no one may, on pain of the same penalty, carry on trade with books reprinted abroad.

§. 1297. b) Bookbinders are forbidden from venturing to trade in unbound works [i.e. in loose sheets] and in merely stitched books, on pain of confiscation of the work and the proceeds from any such copies already sold.

§. 1297. c) An author can certainly sell works that he has published on his own account, either by acting himself as the vendor or through the agency of others; but such sales must not take place in shops open to the public, nor in places where publishers are operating, nor may they be carried out by bookbinders on the author's behalf.

§. 1297. d) Infringements of this regulation are likewise to be punished with the penalty of confiscation in accordance with §. 1297. b)."[67]


12. Conclusion
After the British Statute of Anne (uk_1710) - the first copyright law to include a general provision on reprinting - the Prussian Statute Book (ALR) was the first code of legislation to incorporate detailed provisions on the publishing contract in addition to a general ban on reprinting.[68] Older provisions in Saxony or in other parts of the Holy Roman Empire had always pointed to the application of a privilege as the best form of protection against reprinting. The copyright sections of the Prussian Statute Book were the first detailed reprinting provisions to be enacted in any of the German lands. Intellectual property was recognised as a universal and equal right, even though it was eventually assigned to the publishers rather than to the authors.


Compared to the absolutist police state model which informed the Saxon statutes of 1773 (d_1773), the Prussian provisions were formulated within a framework of private law, acknowledging the publishers' private property and thus suitable for encouraging a capitalist market for books and other printed matter. However, the editors' principal intention of completely replacing the privilege system with a general and unconditional ban on reprinting was not fully achieved. For even when the ALR was in force, book privileges still continued, for many more years, to be issued and regarded as a stronger form of protection.


In modern German legal parlance the kind of copyright provisions implemented by the ALR are referred to as ‘publisher's right' (Verlagsrecht) as distinct from the general term ‘author's rights' (Urheberrecht). Looking back at these provisions from the perspective of modern German copyright discourse, we can say that the author does not sell the copyright per se to the publisher: rather, he retains his author's right - which is not conceived as a property right - and transfers only a clearly demarcated right to use the work for the specific publication of a certain number of copies. Thus, the non-transferability of authors' rights within the German nineteenth- and twentieth-century tradition had its origins in the ALR provisions, rather than in any possible influence exerted by the French Literary and Artistic Property Act of 1793 (f_1793).


13. References

Books and articles [in alphabetical order]


Bornemann, Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig. Systematische Darstellung des Preußischen Civilrechts mit Benutzung der Materialien des Allgemeinen Landrechts, 2nd ed., vol. 3 (Berlin: Jonas Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1843).

Available online at: <"110810_00000204">

Carmer, Johann Heinrich Kasimir (ed.). Entwurf eines Allgemeinen Gesetzbuchs für die preußischen Staten (Berlin: Decker, 1784-1788)

Goldfriedrich, Johann. Geschichte des Deutschen Buchhandels vom Beginn der klassischen Periode bis zum Beginn der Fremdherrschaft (1740-1804), vol. 3 (Leipzig: Verlag des Börsenvereins, 1909)

Hattenhauer, Hans (ed.). Allgemeines Landrecht für die Preussischen Staaten von 1794 (Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1970)

Kleensang, Michael. Das Konzept der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft bei Ernst Ferdinand Klein (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1998)

Klippel Diethelm. "Das Privileg im Naturrecht des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts", in Barbara Dölemeyer and Heinz Mohnhaupt (eds), Das Privileg im europäischen Vergleich (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1997), 329-46

Klippel, Diethelm and Louis Pahlow. "Freiheit und augeklärter Absolutismus: Das Allgemeine Landrecht in der Geschichte der Menschen- und Bürgerrechte", in Günter Birtsch and Dietmar Willoweit (eds), Reformabsolutismus und ständische Gesellschaft (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1998), 215-53

Lehmstedt, Mark. Philipp Erasmus Reich (Leipzig: Karl-Marx-Universität, 1989)

Löhnig, Martin. "Der Schutz des geistigen Eigentums von Autoren im Preußischen Landrecht von 1794", Zeitschrift für Neuere Rechtsgeschichte (ZNR), 29 (2008): 197-214

Meyer, Friedrich Hermann. "Reformbestrebungen im achtzehnten Jahrhundert", Archiv für Geschichte des Deutschen Buchhandels, 12 (1889): 201-301

Mohnhaupt, Heinz. "Privilegien und gemeines Wohl im ALR", in Barbara Dölemeyer and Heinz Mohnhaupt (eds), 200 Jahre Allgemeines Landrecht für die Preußischen Staaten (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1994), 105-144


Nicolai, Friedrich. Leben und Meinungen des Herrn Magisters Sebaldus Nothanker [1773-76], 4th ed. (Berlin: Nicolai, 1799). Available online at: <>

Riege, Helmut (ed.). Klopstocks Briefe 1776-1782 (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1982)

Schwennicke, Andreas. Die Entstehung der Einleitung des Preussischen Allgemeinen Landrechts von 1794. (Klostermann: Frankfurt, 1993)

Selwyn, Pamela E. Everyday Life in the German Book Trade: Friedrich Nicolai as bookseller and publisher in the age of Enlightenment (Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania U. P., 2000)

Voigtländer, Robert. "Das Verlagsrecht im Preußischen Landrecht und der Einfluß von Friedrich Nicolai darauf", Archiv für Geschichte des Deutschen Buchwesens (1898): 4-66

Volz, Gustav Berthold (ed.). Die Werke Friedrichs des Großen in deutscher Übersetzung, vol. 7 (Berlin: Hobbing, 1913-14). Available online at: <>

Wadle, Elmar. Geistiges Eigentum, vol. 2 (Munich: Beck, 2003)

[1] Letter of 24 November 1776, quoted from the Berlin Staatsbibliothek archive by Pamela E. Selwyn, Everyday Life in the German Book Trade: Friedrich Nicolai as bookseller and publisher in the age of Enlightenment (Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania U. P., 2000),184.

[2] Selwyn (2000), 185, with reference to Acta Borussia, vol. 9 (Berlin: Paul Parey, 1904-26), 355.

[3] "Man kann die Druckereien fördern, was einen beträchtlichen Posten ausmacht, sowohl durch den Papierverbrauch wie durch den Gewerbszweig, an den der Norden noch nicht gedacht hat: ich meine den Nachdruck. Mit einem einzigen Exemplar, das der Buchhändler kauft und von neuem druckt, erspart er es den Mitbürgern, ihr Geld ins Ausland zu schicken, denn sie können das Buch im Lande bekommen. Dadurch werden alle guten Bücher, die irgendwo gedruckt werden, zu Manuskripten für unsere Buchhändler. Aber das alles erfordert Vorschüsse von Seiten der Regierung, und das hat mich bisher verhindert, es so energisch zu betreiben, wie ich gewünscht hätte." The German translation is quoted from Gustav Berthold Volz (ed.), Die Werke Friedrichs des Großen: in deutscher Übersetzung, vol. 7 (Berlin: Hobbing, 1913-14), 139. Online version at <> English translation by Luis A. Sundkvist.

[4] Selwyn (2000), 185, with reference to Arthur Georgi, Die Entwicklung des Berliner Buchhandels bis zur Begründung des Börsenvereins der deutschen Buchhändler 1825 (Berlin: Paul Parey, 1926).

[5] Selwyn (2000), 184, with reference to letters held in the Berlin Staatsbibliothek archive.

[6] Mark Lehmstedt, Philipp Erasmus Reich (Leipzig: Karl-Marx-Universität 1989).

[7] "es unverschämt ist, wenn Buchhändler, die zum Theil einheimisch sind, Ew. K. Maj. das Recht, ein Privilegium auszugeben, bestreiten", Friedrich Hermann Meyer, "Reformbestrebungen im achtzehnten Jahrhundert", Archiv für Geschichte des Deutschen Buchhandels 12 (1889): 242. Some more details can be found in Johann Goldfriedrich, Geschichte des Deutschen Buchhandels vom Beginn der klassischen Periode bis zum Beginn der Fremdherrschaft (1740-1804), vol. 3 (Leipzig: Verlag des Börsenvereins, 1909), 30.

[8] "Hiermit war das Princip der Unstatthaftigkeit des Nachdrucks überhaupt für die preußischen Staaten festgestellt". Meyer (1889), 246.

[9] "in sämmtlichen Landen S. kgl. Maj. von Preußen ein General Verboth alles Nachdrucks der Verlags-Bücher". Goldfriedrich (1909), 33.

[10] "Die allgemeinen Rechte des Menschen gründen sich auf die natürliche Freyheit, sein eignes Wohl, ohne Kränkung der Rechte eines Andern, suchen und befördern zu können." Quoted here from Diethelm Klippel and Louis Pahlow, "Freiheit und Absolutismus: Das allgemeine Landrecht in der Geschichte der Menschen- und Bürgerrechte", in Günter Birtsch and Dietmar Willoweit (eds), Reformabsolutismus und ständische Gesellschaft: Zweihundert Jahre Preußisches Allgemeines Landrecht (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1998), 215-253.

[11] Cf. the discussion in Klippel and Pahlow (1998), 217.

[12] "bin ich ein Unterthan, so renuncire ich [...] meiner natürlichen Freyheit". Joachim Georg Darjes, Discours, quoted in Diethelm Klippel, "Das Privileg im Naturrecht des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts", in Barbara Dölemeyer and Heinz Mohnhaupt (eds), Das Privileg im europäischen Vergleich (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1997), 329-346 (335).

[13] "[Die Menschen hätten] durch Eintretung in die bürgerliche Gesellschaft ihrer natürlichen Freiheit renunciiret". Johann Salomo Brunnquell, Eröffnete Gednken von dem allgemeinen Staats-Rechte und dessen höchst-nützlichen Excolirung (Jena 1721), 38, quoted in Klippel (1997), 335.

[14] "es bleibt immer auffallend, daß erst durch ein landesherrliches Privilegium etwas erlangt werden soll, was sich nach allen natürlichen Rechten von selbst versteht". Extractus monitorum, quoted in Voigtländer (1898), 46.

[15] "ein jedes Privilegium auch in kosmopolitischer Rücksicht verwerflich". Karl Salomo Zachariä (1769-1843), Über die Erziehung des Menschengeschlechts duch den Staat (Leipzig 1802), 242. Quoted in Klippel (1997), 339.

[16] "Der Zweck der Staatsverbindung ist die Erhaltung unserer Privatrechte. Privilegien aber heben das Urrecht der Gleichheit auf". Daniel Christoph Reidenitz (1761-1842), Naturrecht (Königsberg 1803), 158. Quoted in Klippel (1997), 339.

[17] "Scheint erheblich, nur wird es schwer seyn, diejenigen zu befrieden, welche bisher von Ausfertigung solcher Privilegien Vortheil gehabt haben". Svarez's marginal notes to the Extractus monitorum, quoted in Voigtländer (1898), 47.

[18] After Frederick II died on 17 August 1786, his successor Frederick William II ordered the participation of the Estates in the lawmaking process. The concerns that they raised helped to ensure that the privileges of the nobility were preserved. For a general discussion on the treatment of privileges in the Prussian Statute Book, see Heinz Mohnhaupt, "Privilegien und gemeines Wohl im ALR", in Barbara Dölemeyer and Heinz Mohnhaupt (eds), 200 Jahre Allgemeines Landrecht für die Preußischen Staaten (Frankfurt: Klostermann 1994), 105-144.

[19] For details on nineteenth-century book privileges in Prussia and other German states see Elmar Wadle, Geistiges Eigentum, vol. 2 (Munich: Beck, 2003), 101-207.

[20] Michael Kleensang, Das Konzept der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft bei Ernst Ferdinand Klein (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1998), 18.

[21] "fast ebenbürtiger Mitarbeiter am Landrecht". Adolf Stölzel, Carl Gottlieb Svarez (Berlin: n.p., 1885), 171, quoted in Kleensang (1998), 21. Klein had practised as a solicitor after studies in Halle, and in his later years he raised his voice against the threatening constraints imposed by the government on solicitors, which he rejected as a "destruction of civil liberties" ("Vernichtung der bürgerlichen Freiheit"): quoted in Kleensang (1998), 18.

[22] "das Publicum sich inzwischen mit den Vorschriften, wornach es künftig seine Handlungen einrichten soll, bekannt machen könne". Quoted in Andreas Schwennicke, Die Entstehung der Einleitung des Preussischen Allgemeinen Landrechts von 1794 (Klostermann: Frankfurt, 1993), 48.

[23] Goßler, quoted in Schwennicke (1993), 49.

[24] "die meisten von den 17 so verschrienen Artikeln der Französischen Erklärung der Menschrechte, zum Theil in sehr ähnlichen Ausdrücken, entweder wirklich in dem Preußischen Gesetzbuche, nur zerstreut und an den Stellen, wo eine unmittelbare Anwendung davon gemacht werden konnte [...] diesen ewig unveräußerlichen Rechten gemäß gehandelt habe". From the anonymous article "Etwas über die neue preußische Gesetzgebung und die Französische Revolution", Deutsche Zeitung (Gotha), ed. by Rudolf Zacharias Becker, 1791: 797-811. Quoted in Schwennicke (1993), 51.

[25] "daß ein landesherrlicher Befehl in Sachen, worüber ein Prozeß schwebt, nicht gelten soll". Schwennicke (1993), 58.

[26] Johann Heinrich Kasimir Carmer (ed.), Entwurf eines Allgemeinen Gesetzbuchs für die preußischen Staten (Berlin: Decker, 1784-88).

[27] Hans Hattenhauer (ed.), Allgemeines Landrecht für die Preussischen Staaten von 1794 (Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1970), 9.

[28] "The last entry in Svarez's manuscript of the "revisio monitorum" dates from mid-1788". Schwennicke (1993), 43.

[29] "wollte Klein dadurch eine bessere systematische Einordung der Normen in das Vertragsrecht gewährleisten". Martin Löhnig, "Der Schutz des geistigen Eigentums von Autoren im Preußischen Landrecht von 1794", Zeitschrift für Neuere Rechtsgeschichte (ZNR), 29 (2008): 197-214. In this recent publication Löhnig has provided details from the original files in the possession of the ‘Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz' in Berlin.

[30] "§ 78. Das Verlagsrecht besteht in der Befugnis, eine Schrift durch den Druck zu vervielfäligen. §. 79. Ohne Einwilligung des Schriftstellers oder seiner Erben kann in der Regel niemand das Verlagsrecht erlangen. §. 80. Das einmal abgetretene Verlagsrecht bleibt Eigenthum dessen, der solches an sich gebracht hat. §. 81. Der Nachdrucker wird mit einer Strafe von 100 Ducaten belegt, und die von ihm gedruckten Exemplarien sollen vernichtet werden. §. 82. Übersetzungen schon gedruckter Bücher sind als neue Werke anzusehen. §. 83. Zu neuen Ausgaben ausländischer Schriftsteller, deren Verleger die Leipziger oder Frankfurther Messe besuchen, kann ein Privilegium nachgesucht werden. §. 84. Neue Ausgaben alter Schriftsteller, von denen oder deren Erben kein Buchhändler ein Verlagsrecht erlangt hat, sind erlaubt. §. 85. Unerlaubt sind bloße Nachdrücke von solchen Ausgaben, welche noch nicht 30 Jahre alt sind. §. 86. Wenn jemand Anmerkungen zu den Werken noch lebender Schriftsteller drucken lassen will, so müssen solche besonders abgedruckt werden. §. 87 Dem Werke selbst dürfen sie nur mit Einwilligung des Verfassers und seines Verlegers beigefügt werden." Published from the archives by Robert Voigtländer, "Das Verlagsrecht im Preußischen Landrecht und der Einfluß von Friedrich Nicolai darauf", Archiv für Geschichte des Deutschen Buchwesens (1898): 4-66 (37-38). Translation by Luis A. Sundkvist.

[31] See Kleensang (1998), 81 ff., who refers to Ernst Ferdinand Klein, Grundsätze der natürlichen Rechtswissenschaft" (Halle: Hemmerde & Schwetschke, 1797).

[32] Löhnig (2008), 200, has indicated that Klein's draft did not adopt proposals on author's property that had been advanced in recent monographs by Johann Jakob Cella (1756-1820): "Vom Büchernachdruck" (one of the essays included in Johann Jakob Cella's frymützige Aufsätze [Ansbach 1784]) and by Martin Ehlers (1731-1800): Über die Unzulässigkeit des Büchernachdrucks. (Dessau / Leipzig 1784).

[33] Scherer, one of the older officials on the legislation committee (he died around 1791), was appointed to the rank of Justizrat in 1750. According to Schwennicke (1993), 25, he was the director of the deputation responsible for justice matters in the legislation committee.

[34] "Herr Scherer meint, der Verleger könne den Schriftsteller nicht hindern, eine zweyte, vermehrte und verbesserte Auflage zu machen, wenn nur der Verleger der ersten Auflage hinreichend Zeit zu Debitirung derselben gehabt hat. Diese Zeit könne dahin bestimmt werden, wenn er das Buch 2 Jahre hindurch auf die Leipziger Messe hat mitnehmen können."

Diese Zeit dürfte wohl auf große und kostbare Werke zu kurz seyn. Die hier angenommenen Grundsätze hindern die Ausbreitung der Wissenschaft, und binden den Schriftsteller zu sehr, welcher den Verleger nicht controllieren kann." Quoted in Voigtländer (1898), 39. Translation by Luis A. Sundkvist. This provision, however, was not enacted.

[35] "In dubio, wenn keine längere und kürzere Zeit bestimmt worden, gilt das Verlagsrecht nur auf 20 Jahre". Quoted in Voigtländer (1898), 39.

[36] The following details of the case are taken from Helmut Riege (ed.), Klopstocks Briefe 1776-1782 (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1982).

[37] Goldfriedrich (1909), 455.

[38] Svarez's published draft included some other provisions which were appropriate for reinforcing the author's right with regard to his publisher. In view of the fact that publishers often tried to secure twenty-year privileges for certain editions, Svarez argued that such a possibility had to be obviated: "The publisher cannot solicit a privilege to the author's detriment" ("Zum Nachtheil der Rechte des Schriftstellers kann der Verleger kein Privilegium nachsuchen"). Quoted in Voigtländer (1898), 41.

[39] "[Es] kann das Verhältniß zwischen Schriftsteller und Verleger unmöglich nach der Theorie von Kauf und Verkauf beurtheilt werden. Das Eigenthum der Schrift selbst, in so fern sie Geistesprodukt ist, geht keineswegs auf den Verleger über; er erwirbt blos das Verkaufsrecht i.e. die Befugniß, die Schrift durch Druck zu vervielfältigen." Quoted in Voigtländer (1898), 48 f. Translation by Luis A. Sundkvist.

[40] See d_1785.

[41] Selwyn (2000), 31.

[42] An English translation by Thomas Dutton was published in 1798. All the passages from the novel quoted here have been translated by Luis A. Sundkvist.

[43] "Er kannte alle Vorfälle des Verleger und Autorgewerbes." Quoted from the fourth, amended edition of Friedrich Nicolai, Leben und Meinungen des Herrn Magisters Sebaldus Nothanker (Berlin: Nicolai 1799). Online at: <>, 91.

[44] "Der will der Welt nützliche Kenntnisse mittheilen, der will Wahrheit und Weisheit befördern." Ibid., 101.

[45] "Der Autor will gern dem Verleger so wenig Bogen Manuskript als möglich, für so viel Geld als möglich ist, überliefern. Der Verleger will gern so viele Alphabete als möglich, so wohlfeil als möglich einhandeln, und so theuer als möglich verkaufen. Der Autor will gern so wenig Zeit, Mühe, Überlegung und Geschicklichkeit an sein Buch wenden, und doch so viel Ruhm, Belohnung, Beförderung, von der Welt einärndten, als möglich." Ibid., 102-03.

[46] "Da ist mehr als ein Buchhändler, der seinen Autoren aufträgt was er für verkäuflich hält: Geschichte, Romanen, Mordgeschichte, zuverläßige Nachrichten, von Dingen die man nicht gesehen hat, Beweise, von Dingen die man nicht glaubt, Gedanken, von Sachen die man nicht versteht. Zu solchen Büchern bedarf der Verleger keine Autoren, die einen Namen haben, sondern solche die nach der Elle arbeiten. Ich kenne einen der in seinem Hause an einem langen Tische zehn bis zwölf Autoren sitzen hat, und jedem sein Pensum fürs Tagelohn abzuarbeiten giebt." Ibid., 108-09.

[47] "daß also der Verleger am besten daran ist, der die schlechtesten Bücher hat, weil er leicht etwas bessers bekommt". Ibid., 110.

[48] "Und doch werden sie beynahe eben so verfertigt, nur daß man, wie bey Strümpfen, bloß die Hände dazu nöthig hat, und nicht wie bey der Leinwand, auch die Füße. Auch versichere ich Sie, daß keine Lieferung von Hemden und Strümpfen für die Armee genauer bedungen wird, und richtiger auf den Tag muß abgeliefert werden, als eine Uebersetzung aus dem Französischen, denn dies wird in diesen Manufacturen für die gemeinste, aber auch für die gangbarste Waare geachtet." Ibid., 111-12.

[49] "so sucht er unter allen neuen noch unübersetzten Büchern von drey Alphabeten dasjenige aus, dessen Titel ihm am besten gefällt. Ist sodann ein Arbeiter gefunden (welches eben nicht schwer ist) der noch drey Alphabete bis zur nächsten Messe übernehmen kann, so handeln sie über den armen Franzosen oder Engländer, wie zwey Schlächter über einen Ochsen oder Hammel, nach dem Ansehen, oder auch nach dem Gewichte. Wer am theuersten verkauft, oder am wohlfeilsten eingekauft hat, glaubt, er habe den besten Handel gemacht. Nun schleppt der Übersetzer das Schlachtopfer nach Hause und tödtet es entweder selbst, oder läßt es durch den zweyten oder dritten Mann tödten.

Seb. Durch den zweyten oder dritten Mann? Wie ist das zu verstehen?

Mag. Das ist eben das Manufakturmäßige der Sache. Sie müssen wissen, es giebt berühmte Leute, welche die Uebersetzungen im Großen entrepreniren, wie ein irländischer Lieferant das Pökelfleisch für ein Spanisches Geschwader, und die sie hernach wieder an ihre Unterübersetzer austheilen. Diese Leute erhalten von allen neuen übersetzbaren Büchern in Frankreich, Italien und England die erste Nachricht, wie ein Mäkler in Amsterdam Nachricht von Ankunft der Ostindischen Schiffe im Texel hat. Alle übersetzungsbedüftige Buchhändler wenden sich an sie, und sie kennen wieder jeden ihrer Arbeiter, wozu er zu gebrauchen ist, und wie hoch er im Preise stehet. Sie wenden den Fleißigen Arbeit zu, bestrafen die Säumigen mit Entziehung ihrer Protection, märzen die Fehler ihrer Uebersetzungen aus, oder bemänteln sie mit ihrem vornehmen Namen; denn mehrentheils sind Entrepreneure von dieser Art stark im Vorredenschreiben. Sie wissen auch genau,wie viel Fleiß an jede Art der Uebersetzung zu wenden nöthig ist, und welche Mittel anzuwenden sind, damit ihre Uebersetzungen allenthalben angepriesen, und dem berühmten Manne öffentlich gedanket werde, der die deutsche gelehrte Welt damit hat beglücken wollen." Ibid., 114-16.

[50] Materialien zum ALR, GStA PK 1. HA Rep. 84, Abt. XVI, Nr. 7, vol. 71; fol. 106-151, The printed version is in Voigtländer (1898), 5-37.

[51] Löhnig (2008), 207.

[52] Annalen der Gesetzgebung und Rechtsgelehrsamkeit in den preussischen Staaten. 1788-1809). 1788-1809. Online at: <>

[53] "Ich habe nicht lange erst erfahren daß über das Verlagsrecht der Buchhändler etwas in dem Entwurfe des neuen Gesetzbuches verordnet ist." Quoted in Voigtländer (1898), 5.

[54] The provisions in Svarez's 1790 draft are taken from Voigtländer (1898), 40-42. Here is the original German text of these provisions: "§. 712 Das Verlagsrecht besteht in der Befugnis, eine Schrift durch den Druck zu vervielfältigen."; "§. 713 Ohne Einwilligung des Schriftstellers oder seiner Erben, kann niemand das Verlagsrecht auf eine Schrift erlangen."; "§. 714. Die Verlags-Verträge sollen, wie alle andern Contracte, schriftlich errichtet werden."; "§ 715. Das Verlags-Recht erstreckt sich, in der Regel, nur auf die erste Ausgabe des Werks."; "§ 716. Will der Verleger eine neue Ausgabe veranstalten, so muß er sich deshalb mit dem Schriftsteller oder dessen Erben abfinden."; "§. 717. Der Verleger darf nicht mehr Exemplarien abdrucken lassen, als in dem Vertrage bestimmt worden."; "§. 718. Dagegen darf aber auch der Schriftsteller keine zweyte Ausgabe machen, so lange noch Exemplare der ersten vorhanden sind, und er sich mit dem vorigen Verleger noch nicht abgefunden hat."; "§. 719. Ist die Anzahl der Exemplare in dem Contrakt nicht bestimmt worden, so muß der Schriftsteller, ehe er die neue Auflage macht, alle Exemplare des ersten Abdrucks an sich lösen, oder sich darüber mit dem Verleger abfinden."; "§. 720. Alle diese Einschränkungen des Schriftstellers (§§. 718, 719) fallen jedoch weg, wenn die erste Ausgabe schon vor zwanzig oder mehr Jahren erschienen, und in dem Contrakt keine längere Dauer des Verlags-Rechts vorbedungen ist."; "§. 725. Neue Ausgaben verstorbener Schriftsteller, von denen, oder deren Erben, kein Buchhändler mehr ein Verlags-Recht hat, sind nachzudrucken erlaubt." Translation by Luis A. Sundkvist.

[55] "sehr viele Schriften, wo der Verleger selbst eine Idee hat, und zu dieser Idee sich des Schriftstellers nur als eines Werkzeuges bedient". Quoted in Voigtländer (1898), 11.

[56] Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Bornemann, Systematische Darstellung des Preußischen Civilrechts mit Benutzung der Materialien des Allgemeinen Landrechts , 2nd ed., vol 3 (Berlin: Jonas Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1843), 198. Available online at:<"110810_00000204">,

with reference to Gustav Alexander Bielitz, Commentar zum Allgemeinen Landrecht für die preußischen Staaten (1823-1830).

[57] "Die meisten Gelehrten sind sehr schwer zu dergleichen Förmlichkeiten zu bringen, besonders wenn es berühmte Schriftsteller sind. Sehr viele Schriftsteller sind unordentlich in Geschäften und oft auch eigensinnig. Manche mögen auch gern eine Hinterthür offenhalten, wenn sie Vorschüsse bekommen und dergl. Der Schriftsteller kann weit eher den Buchhalter [sic.] zu einem schriftlichen Contract zwingen als umgekehrt, und ich weiß gewiß zehn Fälle gegen einen, wo über den Verlag und über die Bezahlung, den Buchhändlern von Schriftstellern Unrecht gethan worden als umgekehrt. Wenn man das Geschäft zwischen Schriftsteller und Buchhändler in seinem rechten Lichte betrachten will, so muß man sich nur lebhaft vorstellen, daß der wahren Gelehrten, welche schreiben, der allerwenigste Theil sind. Die Schriftstellerey ist leider ein Gewerbe geworden. Ein großer Theil der Schriftsteller will sich vom Schreiben nähren. Sie suchen also alles hervor, um Bogen voll zu schreiben, sie zu dem höchsten Preise auszubringen, und davon in Müßiggang und Independenz zu leben. Es wäre für den Staate und für den wahren Fortgang der Litteratur sehr viel besser, wenn der größte Theil dieser Leute entweder sich geschickt machte, dem Staate in Aemtern zu dienen, oder wenn sie Handarbeit thäten. Die Buchhändler hingegen sind nützliche Bürger des Staates, die Unternehmungen machen müssen: sonst können sie ihr Gewerbe nicht treiben." Quoted in Voigtländer (1898), 10.

[58] "Von Übersetzungen wird präsumirt, daß sie auf den Auftrag des Verlegers gemacht sind, wofern nicht ein schriftstellerischer Contrakt das Gegentheil besagt." Quoted in Voigtländer (1898), 27.

[59] Bornemann (1843), 200.

[60] "Besser ware wohl die Zurückgabe des erhaltenen Honorarii (und die Ersetzung der Kosten des Druckes). Dann hängt auch ein Verfasser, der sein Werk verbessern will, nicht so sehr vom Verleger ab." Quoted in Voigtländer (1898), 44.

[61] "den Schriftsteller zu sehr in die Discretion des Verlegers setze; zumal wenn im ersten Kontrakt die Zahl der Exemplarien nicht bestimmt ist. Es dürfte daher rathsamer sein festzusetzen: daß der Schriftsteller alsdann eine neue Ausgabe veranstalten könne, wenn der Verleger aus dem Debit der ersten Ausgabe, seine Ausgabe incl. des Honorarii nebst kaufmännischen Zinsen herausgebracht hat, und daß wenn der Schriftsteller soviel als daran etwa noch fehlet, vergüten will, dem Verleger kein ius contradicendi zustehe." Quoted in Voigtländer (1898), 50.

[62] §. 999 of the "Letzter Entwurf". Ibid., 61.

[63]"So lange der Verfasser und seine nächsten Erben leben, muß sich der Verleger wegen neuer Auflagen mit ihnen auf billige Weise abfinden. Nach derselben Ableben bleibt das Verlagsrecht der bisherigen Verlagshandlung eigen." Ibid., 29.

[64] "bleibt ein jedes einmal rechtmäßig erworbenes Verlagsrecht, solange irgend die Buchhandlung, die den Verlag ursprünglich übernommen hat, von Erben oder anderen Nachfolgern unter eben demselben oder unter verändertem Namen fortgesetzt wird.". Pütter (d_1774), 73f..

[65] "Es ist bisher in allen Ländern allgemeine Observanz, daß nach dem Tode der Schriftsteller, wenn einmahl der seltne Fall eintritt, daß nach dem ihrem Tode noch neue Auflagen ihrer Schriften gemacht werden, das Verlagsrecht allemahl den vorigen Verlegern bleibt." Quoted in Voigtländer (1898), 34.

[66] Ibid., 30-35.

[67] Zwanzigster Titel

Von den Verbrechen und deren Strafen

Fünfzehnter Abschnitt

Von Beschädigungen des Vermögens durch strafbaren Eigennutz und Betrug


6) Büchernachdruck

§. 1294. Bücher, auf welche ein Königlicher Unterthan das Verlagsrecht hat, soll niemand nachdrucken.

§. 1295. Hat der rechtmäßige Verleger ein ausdrückliches Privilegium erhalten: so hat der Nachdrucker eines Buchs, welchem ein solches Privilegium vorgedruckt, oder dessen Inhalt auf oder hinter dem Titelblatte bemerkt ist, die in dem Privilegio angedrohete Strafe verwirkt.

§. 1296. a) Findet die Strafe aus einem besondern Privilegio nicht statt: so soll dennoch der Nachdruck auf den Antrag des rechtmäßigen Verlegers confiscirt, und zum Verkauf unbrauchbar gemacht; oder dem Verleger, wenn er es verlangt, überlassen werden.

§. 1296. b) Es muß aber, in diesem letztern Falle, der rechtmäßige Verleger, wenn er den Nachdruck übernehmen will, die von dem Nachdrucker darauf verwendeten Auslagen demselben auf die zu leistende Entschädigung anrechnen, oder so weit sie dazu nicht erforderlich sind, an die Strafcasse herausgeben.

§. 1297. a) So weit der Nachdruck selbst verboten ist, darf auch niemand, bey gleicher Strafe, mit auswärts nachgedruckten Büchern Handel treiben.

§. 1297. b) Buchbinder dürfen des Handels mit ungebundenen Büchern, und bloß gehefteten Schriften, bey Strafe der Confiscation des Werks, und des für schon verkaufte Exemplare gelöseten Werths, sich nicht anmaßen.

§. 1297. c) Ein Verfasser kann seine für eigne Rechnung gedruckten Schriften zwar durch sich selbst, oder auch durch Andere verkaufen; es darf aber dergleichen Verkauf nicht in einem öffentlichen Laden, und an Orten, wo Buchhändler sind, nicht durch Buchbinder geschehen.

§. 1297. d) Uebertretungen dieser Vorschrift werden ebenfalls mit der Strafe der Confiscation nach §. 1297. b) geahndet."

[68] "Die erste Gesetzgebung überhaupt, die über bloße Nachdrucksverbote hinaus eine umfassende Regelung des Verlagsrechts enthält." Löhnig, (2008), 197. A similar point is made by Vogel (1978), 89.

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