# Primary Sources on Copyright - Record Viewer




Linguet's memorandum, London (1777)

Source: Bibliothèque universitaire de Poitiers (SCD) : Linguet, Simon-Nicolas-Henri, Annales politiques, civiles, et littéraires du XVIIIe siècle, tome III, Londres, 1777, p. 24.

Linguet's memorandum, London (1777), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org

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            Chapter 1 Page 5 of 49 total


of performances, but also the very duration of their rights of property to their
plays. A general confiscation has been pronounced, to the theatres’ profit, of
all dramatic works which have had what are known as three runs. Moreover,
this confiscation is even anticipated by law, in certain cases, when the play is
a flop [tombée dans les règles]; a somewhat ridiculous expression, coined to
designate plays which attract small revenues, so that when a play does not
bring in a certain sum to the actors, they are consoled by abandoning the
whole play. Companies of actors are ogres who are permitted to eat their
suppliers alive when they lack provisions.

      In this way, success and failure work equally against the author: if he
succeeds, his glory is harmful to him, because his three runs are quickly used
up; if he fails, the ordeal of defeat is compounded by that of financial loss.
One way or another, his property rights are transferred, without his consent, to
people who have no right to them.

      Perhaps men of letters should blame themselves for these administrative
misjudgements. They have never sought to enlighten the authorities regarding
this interesting situation. Disunited among themselves, absorbed in
conspiracies which divide and frustrate them, and which also dishonour them,
they have never managed to unite in defence of their possessions.
They have even – with what scrupulousness! –


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