# Primary Sources on Copyright - Record Viewer
Privilege of the Elector of Saxony, Wittenberg (1534)

Source: Würtembergische Landesbibliothek Stuttgart Bb deutsch 154503 (p. 1) and the original handwritten privilege from the Stadtarchiv Wittenberg, scanned from a reprint in Hans Volz, Martin Luthers deutsche Bibeln (Berlin and Altenburg 1981) p. 157

Privilege of the Elector of Saxony, Wittenberg (1534), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org

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1 translated page

Chapter 1 Page 1

We, John Frederick, by the Grace
of God: Duke of Saxony
and Elector etc.

      Send to all and sundry of our prelates, / counts, / gentlemen / of the knightage
and the nobility, / bailiffs, / captains, / officials, / administrators, / tax collectors, / retainers, / town
councillors, / and to all our other / subjects and followers, / our greeting, / grace, / and all the best/ in advance.
      Right honourable, / well-born, / noble, / and beloved followers! / We hereby let you know
/ that, upon a request duly made /and accompanied by a statement of the motives for it, / we have
decided / to grant to three booksellers based in Wittenberg – / Moritz Holtz, / Bartel Vogel, / and
Christoffel Schramm – / the following privilege: / that only they / and no one else / may print, /
offer for sale, / and sell / in Our principalities and domains / the books listed as follows: /
namely, the whole German Bible, / the Book of Psalms, together with the Summaries, / the
small New Testament, / Jesus Syrach, / and also Dr Martin Luther’s Postils.
      And even if these books / were to be reprinted elsewhere, / they may not be sold – neither
publicly nor secretly – / nor put up for sale / in our principalities and domains – / on pain of a
fine of hundred gulden, / half of which is to be paid to the appointing authorities of the place /
where the offenders are found, / and the other half to the aforementioned three booksellers.
      We therefore demand from you all, / and from each one of you in particular, to ensure /
that, in each of your municipal courts of competent jurisdiction, as well as in your capacity as
officials appointed by us,/ you do not allow / the aforesaid books / to be printed, / or offered for
sale to others, / or sold, / unless those wishing to do this did so / with the knowledge of the
above-stated three [booksellers], / in accordance with their will and with their apparent consent.
Moreover, if anyone happened to have acted / or were acting contrary to this, / we demand from
you that, / on application of the aforesaid three / or their attorneys, / you show yourselves to
be determined and unremitting / in your levying of the above fine from the offenders.
/ We did not want to leave you uninformed about this, / and desire that in this
matter / our decision be carried out fully – / under pain of incurring a
serious punishment from us. In witness whereof, this has
been stamped and set with the obverse of our
privy seal / and issued in Torgau, /
Thursday after the Feast of St
Peter ad Vincula, /
in the year

Translation by: Luis A. Sundkvist


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