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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1 translated page

Chapter 1 Page 1

1544. 7 February, in Council of Ten

The audacity and greed for gain of some printers in this city of ours has grown to such
an extent that they permit themselves to print what they like and to name the authors
of the things they print without their knowledge, indeed completely against their
wishes. A complaint on this matter has been made to the heads of this council, with a
request for immediate action to put a stop to this. Such an action must definitely be
taken, and therefore:
      it has been decreed that in future no printer in this city of ours shall dare to
print or to sell printed copies of any work regardless in what language, if it is not
made clear by original document to the governors of our University of Padua, to whom
jurisdiction over this matter has been deputed, that the author of the work, or his
immediate heirs, are content and desire that it should be printed and sold, on pain of
paying a fine of one ducat for each book and author that are printed in contravention
of this order, one month’s imprisonment, and the burning of all books found to be printed
in such manner. And half of the aforesaid penalty will be paid to the plaintiff who will
reveal the truth, and the other half will go to the hospital of piety; and this decree
shall be published on the steps of San Marco and Rialto.

[In favour] _____ 13
[Against] _____ 1
[Non sincere] _____ 1

Translation by: Joanna Kostylo


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