Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900)
Electoral Saxon Printing and Censorship Acts from 1549 to 1717
Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management, Bournemouth University, UK
Please cite as:
Kawohl, F. (2008) ‘Commentary on Saxonian printing and censorship acts from 1549 to 1717', in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org
1. Full title
1. Full title
Electoral Saxon Printing and Censorship Acts of 1549, 1562, 1571, 1609, 1620, 1625, 1636, 1661, 1678, 1683, 1686, 1702, 1711, 1717 as published in 1724.
These thirteen mandates are concerned with censorship, guild regulations and reprinting. Publishers were advised to refrain from printing "slanderous writings" (1549), "infamous" (1683, 1702) or "defamatory works" (1571), and admonished that "nothing may be printed nor imported from elsewhere without having first passed the censorship" (1562, 1620). Censors were required "to sign their names" (1661) and printers to "pledge themselves under oath" to not print anonymous writings (1711). Bookbinders and other non-professionals were banned from the book trade (1678) and the Leipzig City Court was ordered to strictly enforce Electoral book privileges (1636).
In 1625 the clarification was made that book privileges were not "issued in perpetuity" and in 1686 (in a mandate that was by and large copied from the Emperor's decree of 25 October 1685) it was stated that publishers were "to refrain from illicit reprinting which causes great harm to those who have honestly acquired books from their authors and who may well have obtained privileges for them". This wording was interpreted as a general ban of reprinting for both privileged and not-privileged books within a Rescript of 1798. However, this retrospective interpretation is not borne out by the practice of publishers and booksellers in Saxony over the course of the eighteenth century.
Books and articles [in alphabetical order]
Gieseke, L. Vom Privileg zum Urheberrecht (Baden-Baden: Nomos 1995)
Kapp, F. Geschichte des Deutschen Buchhandels, vol.1 (Leipzig: Verlag des Börsenvereins der deutschen Buchhändler, 1886)