Dramatic Act (1780)

Source: Archives nationales, 01/844 (document conservé aux Archives nationales, Paris)

Dramatic Act (1780), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org

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Record-ID: f_1780b

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Full title:
Decree of the Council of State of the King on dramatic authors

Full title original language:

The ruling of 9 December 1780 is the last important legislative act of the ancien régime regarding the performance of plays for the stage. The aim which was almost desperately being pursued through this legislation was to settle once and for all the long dispute which had been going on between the actors of the Comédie-Française and France's leading dramatic authors, concerning the remuneration due to the latter and what its limits were - that is, at what point the 'fall' ('chute') of a play according to the rules ('dans les règles') was considered to have taken place and the company was no longer obliged to pay its author any royalties. In the forefront of this dispute we find, of course, Beaumarchais, who effectively had the authority of a 'commissaire des gens de lettres' thanks to his leading role in the foundation of the Society of Playwrights in 1777. A few months before the King's Council's ruling, in May 1780, Beaumarchais had in fact managed to secure an agreement with the actors of the Comédie, regarding royalties and the minimum level of ticket sales which a play had to generate if it was not to be considered to have 'fallen according to the rules', thereby becoming the theatre's property. In August of that same year, the author of 'The Marriage of Figaro' had also drawn up his important Report on this long struggle (the so-called 'Compte rendu de l'affaire des auteurs dramatiques et des comédiens français'). However, in spite of this agreement which recognised the 'property right' of authors, and which had been approved by the King and confirmed by the ruling of December, the conflict between authors and the monopoly of the Comédie-Française would continue right up to the Revolution.

Commentary: No commentaries for this record.


Related documents in this database:
1780: Beaumarchais's report
1780: Decree on Dramatic Literary Property

Author: N/A

Publisher: N/A

Year: 1780

Location: N/A

Language: French

Source: Archives nationales, 01/844 (document conservé aux Archives nationales, Paris)

Persons referred to:
Amelot de Chaillou, Antoine-Jean
Louis XVI

Places referred to:

Cases referred to:

Institutions referred to:
Council of the Comédie-Française (est. 1766)
King's Council of State (France)
Maison du Roi (French Royal Household)

Comédie-Française regulations (1697)
Comédie-Française regulations (1757)
Comédie-Française regulations (Decree of 9 December 1780)
Royal letters patent 1761, reorganizing the administration and financing of the Comédie-Française

authors' remuneration
interest groups
property theory, authors' property
public performance

Responsible editor: Frédéric Rideau

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