# Primary Sources on Copyright - Record Viewer
Kant: On the Unlawfulness of Reprinting, Berlin (1785)

Source: Retrospektive Digitalisierung wissenschaftlicher Rezensionsorgane und Literaturzeitschriften des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts aus dem deutschen Sprachraum, http://www.ub.uni-bielefeld.de/diglib/aufklaerung/index.htm.

Kant: On the Unlawfulness of Reprinting, Berlin (1785), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org

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            Chapter 1 Page 15 of 15 total


has an inalienable right to them (jus personalissimum), entitling him to
always be the one speaking through anyone else, i.e. a right which means
that no one can deliver the same speech to the public other than in his
(the author's) name. But if one modifies a book written by someone else
(abridging it, or adding to it, or reworking it) in such a way that it would
actually be wrongful to bring it out under the name of the author of the
original, then such a modification carried out in the publisher's own name
does not constitute reprinting and is therefore not forbidden. For here
it is another author who is conducting through his publisher a different
business to that of the first author, and this other author is therefore
not encroaching in the latter's business with the public. He is not presenting
that author as speaking through himself, but rather an altogether different
author. Neither can translation into a different language be treated as
reprinting, for it is not the same speech by the author, even though the
thoughts may well be the same.

            If the idea of book publishing as such which was taken as the
basis for the above arguments were to be understood properly and (as I
flatter myself to think it feasible) if it were to be elaborated with the
requisite elegance of Roman juridical scholarship, then actions against
reprinters could very well be brought before the courts without it being
necessary to apply beforehand for a new law to be promulgated in this respect.

                                    I. Kant



( 417 )

hat daran ein unveräußerliches Recht (ius
personalissimum) durch jeden andern immer
selbst zu reden, d. i. daß niemand dieselbe
Rede zum Publicum anders, als in seines
(des Urhebers) Namen halten darf. Wenn man
indessen das Buch eines andern so verändert
(abkürzt oder vermehrt oder umarbeitet),
daß man sogar Unrecht thun würde, wenn man
es nunmehr auf den Namen des Autors des
Originals ausgeben würde: so ist die
Umarbeitung in dem eigenen Namen des
Herausgebers kein Nachdruck und also nicht
unerlaubt. Denn hier treibt ein anderer
Autor durch seinen Verleger ein anderes
Geschäft als der erstere und greift diesem
also in sein Geschäfte mit dem Publicum
nicht ein; er stellt nicht jenen Autor als
durch ihn redend vor, sondern einen andern.
Auch kann die Übersetzung in eine andere
Sprache nicht für Nachdruck genommen werden;
denn sie ist nicht dieselbe Rede des
Verfassers, obgleich die Gedanken genau
dieselben sein mögen.
      Wenn die hier zum Grunde gelegte Idee
eines Bücherverlages überhaupt wohlgefaßt und
(wie ich mir schmeichle, daß es möglich sei)
mit der erforderlichen Eleganz der römischen
Rechtsgelehrsamkeit bearbeitet würde: so
könnte die Klage gegen den Nachdrucker wohl
vor die Gerichte gebracht werden, ohne daß
es nöthig wäre, zuerst um ein neues Gesetz
deshalb anzuhalten.                              I. Kant



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