Commentary on:
Treaties on reciprocal protection between Prussia and various German States (1827)

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Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900)

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Identifier: d_1827a

 

Commentary on the treaties on reciprocal protection between Prussia and several German states, Berlin (1827)

Friedemann Kawohl

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

 

Please cite as:
Kawohl, F. (2008) ‘Commentary on copyright treaties between Prussia and several German states (1827)', in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org
 

1. Full title

2. Abstract

3. The treaties as a harbinger of the Federal Resolution of 1832

4. Chronology of the treaties

5. References

 

1. Full title

Treaties between Prussia and other German States concerning reciprocal protection of authors' and publishers' rights

 

2. Abstract

Between 1827 and 1829 Prussia entered into thirty bilateral agreements with member states of the German Confederation. Apart from Austria, these agreements were concluded with most of the bigger states (e.g. Bavaria, Saxony, Hannover, Württemberg, Baden, the Grand Duchy of Hessen, Hamburg) and many of the smaller states that made up the German Confederation.

 

Prussian authors and publishers were to be protected like the subjects of the signatory states, and vice versa Prussia guaranteed national treatment for the signatory states' subjects. In states where efficient protection could only be obtained by the acquisition of a privilege (e.g. Württemberg), Prussian subjects were to pay no extra fee above what natives had to pay. The Prussian initiative prompted the adjustment of copyright legislation in some of the contracting states. The treaties with Hamburg (13 July 1828) and Anhalt-Dessau (11 December 1827) explicitly referred to new ordinances that apparently had to be specially issued in these states in order to meet Prussian expectations.

 

The treaties were a major step towards the directives of 1834 and 1837 (d_1837b) that effectively set minimum standards for copyright protection within the whole of the German Confederation. 

 

3. The treaties as a harbinger of the Federal Resolution of 1832

In her aim to achieve a harmonization of copyright legislation within the German Confederation, Prussia encountered some resistance within the Federal Assembly. In 1819, Austria had proposed an information super-authority that would bestow copyrights for works which passed an internal censorship body for the whole Confederation. In Prussia and most other North German states censorship and copyright were treated independently and the idea of a central agency was refused.

 

In the course of 1825 and 1826[1] a general application to the Confederation by Goethe resulted in 39 privileges being granted to the poet for the final supervised edition of his works. Elmar Wadle has argued that Prussian politicians regarded the reactions to Goethe's application to the Confederation as "a test with which Prussia wanted to ascertain where the other confederate states stood in the question of reprinting."[2] Since the results were unambiguous, with Württemberg and Bavaria, in particular, making it clear that they wanted to stick to their privilege systems, Prussia began to prepare for bilateral treaties with a number of member states, and these were eventually signed between 1827 and 1829.

 

After these treaties had become effective in 1829 the Prussian delegate reported on this initiative before the Federal assembly and proposed that what had been concluded in the bilateral treaties should be accepted by all the member states, i.e. that:

"in applying these legal provisions and measures against reprinting, the distinction between a state's own subjects and those of the other confederate states should be discarded."[3]

The Prussian initiative within the Assembly was supported by many member states, but not by Austria. Thus it was not before 1832 that the principle of national treatment, implemented in the treaties of 1827-1829, was agreed on at the level of the German Confederation, that:

"in the implementation of the legal provisions and measures against reprinting, in future any distinction between the subjects of one confederate state and those of the other states united in the German Confederation is to be removed with respect to one another and over the whole territory of the Confederation in such a way that the publishers, editors, and writers of any confederate state will be able to enjoy in every other member state the legal protection against reprinting which is in force there."[4]

 

4. Chronology of the treaties 

  • 16 August 1827 Frederick William III authorises the Prussian cabinet to initiate negotiations for bilateral treaties with other states of the Confederation
  • 11 September 1827 Treaty with the Kingdom of Hanover
  • 18 September 1827 Treaty with the Grand Duchy of Hessen
  • 27 September 1827 Treaty with the Principality of Oldenburg
  • 24 September 1827 Treaty with the Principality of Schaumburg-Lippe
  • 4 October 1827 Treaty with the Duchy of Braunschweig
  • 6 October 1827 Treaty with the Principality of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen
  • 19 October 1827 Treaty with the Free City of Lübeck
  • 20 October 1827 Treaty with the Principality of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt
  • 20 October 1827 Treaty with the Free City of Bremen
  • 28 October 1827 Treaty with the Kingdom of Saxony
  • 20 October 1827 Treaty with the Principality of Lippe-Detmold
  • 5 November 1827 Treaty with the Duchy of Nassau
  • 22 November 1827 Treaty with the Principality of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
  • 27 November 1827 Treaty with the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
  • 7 November 1827 Treaty with the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
  • 7 November 1827 Treaty with the Duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
  • 8 January 1828 Treaty with the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg
  • 8 January 1828 Treaty with the Principality of Hohenzollern-Hechingen
  • 9 January 1828 Treaty with the Principality of Anhalt-Bernburg
  • 10 January 1828 Treaty with the Principalities of Reuß-Schleiz and Reuß-Lobenstein
  • 11 December 1827 Treaty with the Duchy of Anhalt-Dessau, with reference to an ordinance of the Duchy issued on 15 November 1827
  • 4 January 1828 Treaty with the Grand Duchy of Baden
  • 18 January 1828 Treaty with the Principality of Reuß-Plauen
  • 11 December 1827 Treaty with Denmark regarding the German-speaking provinces Holstein, Lauenburg and Schleswig
  • 26 November 1827 Treaty with the Principality of Waldeck
  • 29 February 1828 Treaty with the Kingdom of Württemberg
  • 7 February 1828 Treaty with the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen
  • 13 July 1828 Treaty with the Free City of Hamburg, with reference to a Hamburg ordinance of 4 July 1828
  • 22 January 1829 Treaty with the Kingdom of Bavaria

 

5. References

Gieseke, L., Vom Privileg zum Urheberrecht (Baden-Baden: Nomos 1995)

Wadle, E., Geistiges Eigentum, vol. 1 (Weinheim: VCH, 2001)


[1] In 1827, Ernst von Schiller (1796-1841) presented 39 privileges for works of his father to his publishers Cotta. See Stephan Füssel, Schiller und seine Verleger (Frankfurt: Insel, 2005), 311.

[2] "ein Test, mit dessen Hilfe Preußen die Haltung der übrigen Bundesstaaten in der Nachdruckfrage erproben wollte." Elmar Wadle, Geistiges Eigentum, vol. 1 (Weinheim: VCH, 2001) 130.

[3] "bei Anwendung der gesetzlichen Vorschriften und Maaßregeln wider den Nachdruck den Unterschied zwischen dem eigenen Unterthan und dem der übrigen Bundesstaaten fallen zu lasen", in: Protokolle der Bundesversammlung 1829 § 148, p. 628f., here quoted from Ludwig Gieseke, Vom Privileg zum Urheberrecht (Baden-Baden: Nomos 1995), 230.

[4] "daß bei Anwendung der gesetzlichen Vorschriften und Maaßregeln wider den Nachdruck, in Zukunft der Unterschied zwischen den eigenen Unterthanen eines Bundesstaates und jenen der übrigen im Deutschen Bund vereinten Staaten gegenseitig und im ganzen Umfange des Bundes in der Art aufgehoben werden soll, daß die Herausgeber, Verleger und Schriftsteller eines Bundesstaates sich in jedem anderen Bundesstaat des dort gesetzlich bestehenden Schutzes gegen Nachdruck zu erfreuen haben werden." In: Protokolle der Bundesversammlung 1832 § 361, p. 1176f., here quoted from Gieseke (1995), 231.


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