Venetian Decree on Author-Printer Relations, Venice (1545)

Source: scanned from the manuscript held in the Venetian State Archives: ASV, CX, Comuni, b. 36, fol. 297r

Venetian Decree on Author-Printer Relations, Venice (1545), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

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Record-ID: i_1545

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Full title:
Press Reform Regulating Author-Printer Relations and Censorial Revision of Books by the Reformatori dello Studio di Padova

Full title original language:

This Decree is the first statutory measure in Venice dealing with authorship and it is often celebrated as the first European legislative act to recognise the author's 'copyright'. In reality, however, it was one of a series of remedial decrees designed to regulate the printing trade and, rather than constituting an assertion of author's rights as such, it illustrates the abuses of the book trade. While setting out censorship rules it does, though, incidentally give more recognition to the author's personality. The notion of the author as an artistic personality is for the first time legally defined and offset against the financial interests of the printers. The commentary discusses the contemporary status of the author vis-à-vis printers and publishers in the context of the emerging censorship regime.

1 Commentary:

  • Richardson, Brian, 'From scribal publication to print publication: Pietro Bembo's 'Rime', 1529-1535', 'Modern Language Review' 95 (2000), 684-95

  • May, Christopher, 'The Venetian Moment: New Technologies, Legal Innovation and the Institutional Origins of Intellectual Property', 'Prometheus' 20, nr 2 (2002), 159-179

  • Brown, Horatio Fortini, 'The Venetian Printing Press 1469-1800: An Historical Study Based upon Documents for the Most Part Hitherto Unpublished' (London: John C. Nimmo, 1891)

Related documents in this database:
1547: French Censorship Act
1502: Aldus Manutius's Petition against Counterfeiters
1503: Aldus Manutius's Warning against the Printers of Lyon
1516: Appointment of Andrea Navagero as Literary Censor
1517: Venetian Decree on Press Affairs
1527: Venetian Decree on Pre-publication Censorship
1549: Decree Establishing the Venetian Guild of Printers and Booksellers
1643: The Humble Remonstrance of the Stationers' Company

Author: N/A

Publisher: N/A

Year: 1545

Location: Venice

Language: Italian

Source: scanned from the manuscript held in the Venetian State Archives: ASV, CX, Comuni, b. 36, fol. 297r

Persons referred to:
Lando, Pietro

Places referred to:

Cases referred to:

Institutions referred to:
Riformatori dello Studio di Padova (Venetian Board of Governors for the University of Padua)
University of Padua
Venetian Council of Ten

Venetian decree on censorial revision of books by the Commissioners of the University of Padua (1545)

Renaissance, the
author/publisher relations
authors, self-publishing
authorship, legal concept of
authorship, theory of
guild regulation
licensing, Approbation
moral rights, integrity
penalties, paid to author(s)
penalties, paid to fiscal authorities
personality theory
scribal publication

Responsible editor: Joanna Kostylo

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