Aldus Manutius's Petition against Counterfeiters, Venice (1502)

Source: Scanned from the manuscript held in the Venetian State Archives: ASV, Senato Terra, reg. 14, c. 112r.

Aldus Manutius's Petition against Counterfeiters, Venice (1502), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

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            Chapter 1 Page 1 of 1 total

                  1502, October

      To the most serene Doge and excellent Senate: While Aldo Romano has lived in this city for many
years, and with the help of God has printed many books in Greek and Latin with great expense and effort,
he nevertheless continues to print them with such great diligence and correctness as no one has ever
shown apart from him, even if he has to spend some 200 ducats every month. And because he has created
Greek type-fonts with ligatures which look as if they had been made with a pen, and many other wonderful
inventions and devices, and still more recently he devised the finest chancery or cursive Latin types
that look as if they had been written by hand. With these he has printed, and continues to print, many
books with marvellous diligence and correctness, which is praised by everyone, for it brings great benefit
and honour to this splendid city. And yet he has been robbed of his efforts, and his inventions are being
corrupted, as it happened in Brescia where they copied one of his works with a false Florentine imprint.
At this very moment his types are being counterfeited and taken to Lyon where they are used to produce
forged copies, and even worse, his own name Aldo Romano was put on them with his dedication and inscription:
Printed in Venice in the House of Aldo Romano. And there are so many errors in them that this is most
shameful to this Dominion as well as for the supplicant himself. Therefore, in order to continue delivering
this worthy and useful endeavour to the whole world, [he] begs this most solemn Senate that no one but him
may make, counterfeit, or print books with his Greek and Latin chancery types and any other such types he
might devise in future, nor to bring counterfeited prints from foreign lands into this dominion for the next
ten years, on pain of loss of the types and books and 200 ducats each time they are counterfeited, these
fines to be paid so that a third goes to a charitable institution, a third to the executors, and another to
the accuser. Even though this supplicant has already obtained privileges from our Illustrious Serenity for
the aforementioned Greek and Latin cursive types, and for the books printed with them, his great determination
neverthelses compells him to beseech again this magnificent Senate to favour his request for the benefit of
all men of letters. Although [the supplicant] hopes that with divine help he will be able to invest more
assets in print, it would be damaging to good books if he could not secure his revenues. He therefore pleads
support of Your Serenity and of this most prudent Council, which God shall save and maintain forever.

            18 October

In favour            103
Against            16
Non sincere      3


                    MCCCCC secundo De mese octobris

Serenissimo Principe et excellentissimo Senato, cum sit che Aldo Romano se sia posto in questa cità da
molti anni: et cu[m] l’aiuto de dio: habia stampato de molti libri in greco et in latino
cum grande spesa, et fatiga: et stampa tuta uia: ita che spende al mese, da circa ducati
duecento, et usa summa diligentia, et correctione, più che niuno altro che mai ha-
bia stampato, Et per chè ha facte lettere \= greche/ cum ligature che pareno cum calamo, et ha ritrouato
inuention et inzegni che ciascuno se ne maraueglia: Et più di nouo ha excogitato
lettere cancellaresche, siue corsive latine bellissime, che pareno scripte á mano, et
cum esse ha stampato, et stampa de molti libri, cum meraueliosa diligentia, et correcti-
one cosa che è laudata da cascaduno, che è grande utile et honore de questa
inclita cità. Et perchè li uengono tolte le sue fatiche, et guasto quello che lui conza,
come è stato facto in Bressa, che hano stampato una de sue opere, et
falsato dicendo impressum florenti[a]e. Et al presente li sono state contrafacte
le sue lettere, et mandate a lione, et cum esse, contrafacto i suo[i] libri et più
messoli el nome de esso aldo, et la sua epistola, et scripto, stampato i[n] Venetia,
in caxa de aldo Romano, et li sono molte incorrectione, che è uergogna de
questa terra, et de esso supplicante. Per tanto aciò possa proseg[ui]re el suo degno
incepto et utile á tuto el mondo, supplica á questo grauissimo Senato: che
dicte lettere grece, et cancellaresche latine, á niuno altro sia licito fare, o,
contrafare, nè stampare o contrafare li libri facti, et che farà esso supplicante:
nè portar stampati o contrafacti de terre aliene nel uostro Dominio da mo
ad anni diece, sotto pena de perder el lavoro o libri, et duecento ducati, per cada-
una uolta che se contrafarà: quale pena sia per uno terzo del hospitale de la
pieta, per l’altro de li signori doue sera facta la conscientia, per l’altro del accu-
satore: Et benche esso supplicante habia hauuto più gratie da la Illustrissima Signoria
nostra, de dicte lettere grece, et cancellaresche latine, et de li libri hauesse
stampati cum esse. Tamen per mazor sua fermeza supplica che la supradicta
gratia et petitione li sia facta per questo grauissimo Senato, á benefitio de
tuti li letterati, perchè spiera cu[m] l’aiuto de dio mettere in breve bono asseto
ne le stampe, le quali se non se li remedia sono per ruinare li boni libri.
Recorre adunche al soccorso di Vostra Serenità et di questo Consiglio sapien-
tissimo, il qual Dio salve et mantegna in eternum.

                    Die xvii octobris

Auctoritate huius consilij. Atenta honesta[te] petitionis, et studentium
commeditate, concedatur suprascripto Aldo Romano: si cut humiliter
supplicat, ex supplicatione supius annotata. Ita infra decen-
nium nullus alius posit imprimere, imprimere facere,sub pe-
na supius contenta in omniubus.

De parte 103
De non 16
Non sync[er]i 3


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