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Privilege and Property

 | 
Ronan Deazley
, 
Martin Kretschmer
, 
Lionel Bently

5. Author and Work in the French Print Privileges System: Some Milestones

Laurent Pfister

Texte intégral

  • 1 This article is based upon a paper that was delivered at the conference launching the Primary Sour (...)

1Note portant sur l’auteur1

  • 2 Lettre sur le commerce des livres (1763). Although this text has been often published, it is inter (...)
  • 3 Edouard Laboulaye and Georges Guiffrey, La propriété littéraire au xviiie siècle. Recueil de pièce (...)
  • 4 See for example Pierre Masse, Le droit moral de l’auteur sur son œuvre littéraire ou artistique (P (...)
  • 5 Consider for example the deputy Patrick Bloche who, in support of the proposal for a global licens (...)

2In France, the history of literary property was born with the concept of literary property. Since the eighteenth century, those contesting the concept of literary property have endeavoured to locate it within an historical context, with both supporters and opponents developing historical narratives to bolster their particular claims. In his Letter on the booktrade, in 1763, Diderot devotes lengthy passages to the history of the subject in order to demonstrate its long-standing provenance.2 In 1859, with the controversies about the duration of droit d’auteur in full swing, the lawyer Édouard René de Laboulaye published a number of historical sources all of which tended to affirm his particular theory of perpetual literary property.3 Similarly, in the decades that followed, a number of French lawyers tried to consolidate the moral right by asserting that it was not only a natural right but one that had existed since the dawn of time.4 In short, since the eighteenth century, the history of literary property has been subject to a process of instrumentalisation, a process which still continues today.5

  • 6 Even if I don’t entirely agree with her interpretation, Prof Ginsburg’s study has encouraged a ren (...)
  • 7 David Saunders, ’Dropping the Subject: An Argument for a Positive History of Authorship and the La (...)

3This instrumentalisation of the history of literary property prompts two considerations. In the first place, it reminds us of the importance of returning to the primary sources concerned. On this point, the publication of Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900) can only be welcomed. It will now be much easier for interested scholars to engage critically with these primary materials, and to draw parallels and points of difference between them. Second, the instrumentalisation of history raises important questions of methodology. How do we write history? Which sources should we use? Should we prioritise some sources – such as legislation or case law – over others? What value should we place upon other, non-legal, historical sources, such as the letters, petitions, or complaints of authors? Of late, various criticisms have been levelled at the historians of the French concept of droit d’auteur for the teleological nature of their approach. That history, it has been argued, has been distorted by the pursuit of an end goal – the validation of both the author and of a natural droit d’auteur. Professor Jane Ginsburg, for example, has highlighted the mistake of reading only a part of the well-known 1791 report by Le Chapelier, the partial reading of which tending to obscure the extent to which Le Chapelier placed the public domain – and not the author – at the centre of his conception of the literary property regime.6 David Saunders, on the other hand, proffers a more broadly conceived critique of both the unwelcome influence of ’Romantic historicism’ in shaping histories of copyright, as well as of the way in which post-structuralist accounts of authorship only serve to entrench the inevitability of the authorial figure as a precondition to the deconstruction of the same.7 That is, if the author is dead (and let us assume that he is), then at some point he must have lived – an inescapable and natural phenomenon, independent of any artifice.

  • 8 See for example: Pierre Recht, Le droit d’auteur, une nouvelle forme de propriété. Histoire et thé (...)
  • 9 Saunders, p. 94. See also C. Haynes, ’Reassessing ”Genius” in Studies of Authorship. The State of (...)
  • 10 L. Pfister, ’L’auteur, propriétaire de son œuvre. La formation du droit d’auteur du xvie siècle à (...)
  • 11 Ibid., pp. 50-60. See also Henri Falk, Les privileges en librairie sous l’Ancien Régime (Paris, 19 (...)
  • 12 Following the expression employed in 1579 by the king’s prosecutor Barnabé Brisson (Recueil de pla (...)
  • 13 See G. Post, K. Giocarinis and R. Kay, The Medieval Heritage of Humanistic Ideal: ”scientia donum (...)
  • 14 Pfister, ’L’auteur, propriétaire’, pp. 123-60; Rideau, La formation, pp. 52-9.
  • 15 See in particular Roger Chartier, ’Qu’est-ce qu’un auteur? Révision d’une généalogie’, Bulletin de (...)

4Where, then, to begin with the history of droit d’auteur? Despite some objections,8 it seems reasonable to explore the origins of French literary property within the system of granting royal privileges for the protection of books – that is, so long as we remain wary of the dangers of exploring this ’sixteenth-century cultural-legal arrangement from the philosophical standpoint of the Romantic author’.9 There are, of course, obvious parallels between these royal privileges and the rights established at the end of the eighteenth century, in that both involve exclusive rights to print and sell a work. Moreover, it’s also important to appreciate that the legislation of the French revolution finds part of its inspiration in the system of granting royal privileges.10 However, significant differences exist between the early royal privileges and droit d’auteur as conceived in the eighteenth century. In the first place, these early privileges were royal favours often granted to reward someone for a public utility, as opposed to giving recognition to any natural or subjective right.11 Second – a very important point – the privilege granted was an exception to the so-called liberté publique de l’imprimerie.12 This public freedom of press can be considered to be an inheritance of medieval ideas concerning the production and dissemination of knowledge,13 as well as an antecedent of the public domain; that is, in the absence of a privilege prohibiting the unauthorised reproduction of a published work, that work was considered to fall within what we now call the public domain.14 Third, important differences between the two forms of protection lie in the place occupied by the author in the system of privileges and also in how the work itself was understood. It is this last point that provides the particular focus of this paper. The first section considers the way in which, prior to the eighteenth century, the author enjoyed an indifferent status within the privilege system, as well as the manner in which the author’s work was not conceived of as an exclusive property that would survive publication of the same (1). The second explores how and why, by the end of the Ancien Regime, the author came to be more fully integrated within the privilege system, as well as the way in which ideas about the author and his work – and the relationship between the two – were significantly transformed as part of that process (2).15

1. The author and the work during the early years of print

  • 16 For example, in 1316 the statutes of the University of Paris relating to copyists states that: ’It (...)
  • 17 In the Epître dédicatoire published at the beginning of Virgile printed by Ulrich Gering in Paris (...)
  • 18 The royal ordinance of Moulins (February 1566) prohibited the publication of any book without ’Our (...)

5Before the invention of the printing press, during the Middle Ages, texts could be freely reproduced.16 After Gutenberg’s invention, the reproduction of texts was protected by the granting of exclusive, but temporary, royal privileges. In France, the first of these were granted at the beginning of the sixteenth century (perhaps influenced by the Italian model) in order to combat the economic injury caused by unauthorised printing.17 From 1566, however, the privilege system was closely linked to the censorship of texts, in that the approbation of the censor was an essential pre-condition for obtaining a privilege.18

6Whereas, during the early years of print, many authors knew how to capitalise upon the privilege system and the operation of the book trade, authorial status (la qualité d’auteur) did not constitute a central element of the legal system of the Ancien Regime – at least, not until the middle of the eighteenth century (1.1). Moreover, during this period, while many regarded the author as owning the work that he produced, this understanding did not extend to the published work – again, an idea that would not take root until the eighteenth century (1.2).

1.1 Relative indifference of the legal system towards the author

  • 19 Letter to Pierre Gillis, Fribourg-en-Brisgau, 28 January 1530; about this letter and others testim (...)
  • 20 Preface of the edition of Œuvres de Clément Marot (Lyon, 1538).
  • 21 For example, Marot writes in the request for his privilege in 1539 that ’il se trouve de mes œuvre (...)
  • 22 About this myth, see Alain Viala, Naissance de l’écrivain (Paris: éditions de Minuit, 1985), p. 10 (...)

7From the sixteenth century onwards, authors, or at least some authors, took an active role in the control of their works. For example, some authors concluded beneficial contracts with booksellers and printers, while others complained about the publication of their work without their consent (a manner ’of assuming rights on the writings of others’ according to Erasme),19 or about poorly produced editions of their work (which, according to Marot amounted to a ’tort’ made to ’my honor […] my person’).20 Moreover, many individual authors obtained royal privileges to protect the exploitation of their own work. Such evidence speaks of an active role played by the author in the emergent business of the book trade – an involvement that, to some extent, reveals a consciousness of the bond that links authors with their works, of the problems caused by the ubiquity which the press conferred upon their writings,21 as well as one that suggests a keen interest – on the part of some authors at least – in the legal control and exploitation of their work (as opposed to the myth of the author as a noble and disinterested producer of scholarly works).22 We should, however, be careful not to over-state the apparent implications of such evidence. That is, such examples should not lead us to conclude that the protection of the author provided the primary focus of the privilege system. Indeed, the general rules of the system gave very little prominence to the author, while some proved to be positively unfavourable. And so, while some authors did, in practice, play an important role in the management and exploitation of their work, by and large the author remained an indifferent – some might say peripheral – figure within the legal system regulating the operation of the book trade.

  • 23 Edit de Châteaubriant du 27 juin 1551, Article 8, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Manus. Fçs 220 (...)
  • 24 Michel Foucault, ’Qu’est-ce qu’un auteur?’, Bulletin de la société française de philosophie (1969) (...)

8The first French legislation to use the word ’author’, in the sense of someone who composes a text, was the 1551 Edit de Châteaubriant, Article 8 of which prescribed all printers to ensure that ’the name of the author’ appeared in the works they published.23 From this date, it was compulsory to make public the person responsible for writing the work. Should this requirement be understood as one concerned to protect an author’s right of paternity? Arguably not, in that it sits within an arsenal of rules primarily concerned with the censorship of the press at a time when the French monarchy was battling the oncoming tide of the Protestant Reformation. Rather, this prescription was designed to ensure that the author of a text could be more easily identified and so could be held accountable for his writings. That is, it is a rule of penal responsibility not of protection, and one that resonates with Michel Foucault’s idea that the penal appropriation of texts preceded their ownership.24 During the Ancien Regime then, the legislative regime first conceptualised the author as an individual bearing public responsibilities and not one enjoying private rights.

  • 25 As some scholars have suggested. See for example: Jean de Borchgrave, Evolution historique du droi (...)
  • 26 Armstrong, p. 36-7. See also Cynthia Brown, Poets, Patrons and Printers. Crisis of Authority in La (...)
  • 27 See for example the privilege granted to Pierre Gringore for Les folles entreprises (Paris: 1505). (...)
  • 28 Indeed, authors secured privileges more frequently in the seventeenth than in the sixteenth centur (...)

9However, authors could and did obtain rights in their works. Never at any time during the Ancien Regime were authors ever excluded from the granting of privileges.25 Indeed, they were among the first subjects to petition for such privileges. In 1504, dissatisfied that the printer Michel Le Noir was printing his work, Le vergier d’honneur, without his consent, André de La Vigne petitioned the Parliament of Paris to prevent the printing and sale of the text; judgment was given in La Vigne’s favour, and he was granted an exclusive right in his work – perhaps one of the first privileges ever granted in France.26 During the next few years, other authors, such as Pierre Gringore and Jean Lemaire de Belge, followed La Vigne’s example by seeking and securing such privileges.27 Moreover, in the decades and centuries that followed, many others, like Marot, Rabelais, and later Descartes, continued to ask for and obtain royal privileges.28

  • 29 The privilege obtained by Pierre Ronsard for Le bocage, edited in Paris, 1554, is reproduced in Œu (...)

10And yet, if the author was not excluded from the privilege system, neither did he occupy a position of particular reverence within that system – although the privilege obtained by Ronsard in 1554 might seem to suggest otherwise. The narratio of Ronsard’s privilege set out that ’it could give better order and fidelity of the impression of works only by the superintendance of the author’.29 The pre-eminent role accorded to Ronsard in relation to the production and publication of his work under this privilege was, however, the exception rather than the rule. In general authors were simply treated in the same way as was any other subject of the king. One’s status as an author carried with it no entitlement to the granting of a privilege, at least not until 1777. Put another way, the granting of privileges was indifferent to the status of the petitioner, and indifferent to the fact that the petitioner was an author seeking protection of his work.

  • 30 This Decree required printers to obtain the consent of the author (or his heirs) before printing a (...)
  • 31 Royal privileges were granted ’sauf le droit d’autrui’ meaning that if a third party suffered dama (...)
  • 32 See the Preface of the authorized edition of Plaidoyers et harangues de Lemaistre (Paris, 1659).
  • 33 See Molière’s Preface to the Précieuses ridicules (Paris, 1660), in which he writes that he had fa (...)

11Because of this, and in the absence of a provision similar to the Venetian Decreeof1545,30 it happened in France that works were published with a royal privilege but without the author’s consent – or worse, against the author’s express will. Such was the experience of the lawyer Antoine Lemaistre who, in 1651, was surprised to see that his work, Plaidoyers, had been published by Parisian booksellers with a royal privilege. Technically, it was possible for Lemaistre to challenge the validity of the privilege,31 and he certainly contemplated taking such action. For Lemaistre, the royal privilege had been granted ’in violation of the order of civil society’ which prohibited printing ’works of people alive without their agreement and participation’.32 But, to my knowledge, neither Lemaistre, nor any other author, such as Molière (who was the victim of a similar misadventure concerning the unauthorised publication of the Précieuses ridicules),33 ever actually challenged the granting of such privileges. That being the case, it is impossible to say what weight might have been given to the argument that a work should not be published, nor a privilege granted, without the consent of the author. What can be said, though, is that the privilege system was not established with the principal aim of protecting and securing the interests of the author.

  • 34 Dictionnaire universel (Rotterdam, 1690), see: ’Privilège’.
  • 35 G. Defaux, ’Trois cas d’écrivains éditeurs dans la première moitié du xvie siècle: Marot, Rabelais (...)
  • 36 SeeArticle14of Lettres patentes du Roy pour le règlement des libraires, imprimeurs et relieurs de (...)

12Perhaps, however, the best evidence in support of the idea that the author played a peripheral role in the operation of the book trade at this time lies in the fact that, even if an author obtained a privilege, he was nevertheless marginalised by the structure and organisation of the trade itself. As Furetiere wrote in his dictionary at the end of the seventeenth century, ’the royal privileges for print are granted with the aim that the author draws some reward from his labour. But by the event, it’s only to the advantage of the publisher’.34 The event referred to was the incorporation of the Parisian booksellers and printers in 1618. Before 1618, authors would sometimes publish their own work themselves.35 After 1618, the Parisian corporation prevented authors from interfering in the printing and sale of their own books.36 When an author obtained a privilege, he was forced to sell it to the bookseller and could not exercise those exclusive rights himself. And while an author may well have obtained greater reward by selling a manuscript accompanied by a privilege than if he had simply sold the manuscript itself, nevertheless the incorporation of the Parisian trade ensured that the printers and booksellers were in a position to benefit most from the exploitation of such works.

  • 37 About this litigation, and for other examples, see Pfister, ’L’auteur, propriétaire’, pp. 113-9.
  • 38 ’Si l’on privoit les Auteurs de la faculté de vendre eux-mêmes leurs Livres, ce seroit leur ôter l (...)
  • 39 Arrest du Conseil d’Etat du Roy du 27 janvier 1700, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Manus. Fçs. (...)

13During the seventeenth century, some authors did try to challenge this corporative monopoly but without success. This was particularly true of the forgotten author Le Pelletier who maintained that his privilege entitled him to print and sell his own work.37 Calling into question the legitimacy of the corporative monopoly, he argued that writing was a form of labour by which he earned his living, and as such it should be as free as any other form of labour, such as agriculture. To prohibit authors from selling their works denied them their means of subsistence as well as diverting them from composing (new) works.38 However, his arguments failed to convince the Royal Council and Le Pelletier was condemned in 1700 for his violation of the corporative monopoly.39

1.2 The Incompatibility of Property and Publication

  • 40 See for example the observations of the sixteenth-century lawyer François Connan, drawing a distin (...)
  • 41 Commentarius in quatuor libros institutionum iuris civilis (Lyon, 1588), p. 125: ’praetera charta (...)
  • 42 Plaidoyez de M. Simon Marion, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Manus. Fçs. 22071, n. 28, f. 62.
  • 43 Plaidoyez de Me Jacques Corbin, Paris, 1611, chap. CXIIII (Du privilège des Livres et de l’Imprime (...)

14During the Ancien Regime, the written work was predominantly conceived of as an action – an act of speech – and not as a thing. Drawing upon Roman law principles, some lawyers regarded writing and paper as instruments of speech – a conversation in vivo – such that the ownership of any text lay with the owner of the paper or the parchment upon which it was written and not necessarily with the author of the same.40 Significantly, however, other lawyers at this time expressly differentiated between the intellectual work and the material upon which that work was written. In François Hotman’s commentaries upon Roman law, for example, he underlines that the stories of Virgil are not to be confused with the paper upon which they were written,41 an idea that was developed in subsequent litigation. For example, in 1583, in challenging a privilege obtained for the Corpus Iuris canonici, Simon Marion, barrister for the Parisian booksellers, argued that while the work could be reduced to a physical object, it was at the same time a ’spiritual thing’; for this reason, he continued, it should not be the subject of an exclusive privilege, an argument that found favour before the Royal Council.42 Similarly, in 1610, Jean Corbin was successful before the Parliament of Paris in suggesting that books consist ’more in science than in matter and merchandise’ and must consequently be free from any taxes.43

  • 44 Justiniani Institutionem seu Elementorum libri quattuor, Paris, 1545, ad. 2, 1, 33: ’nulla pateret (...)

15More importantly perhaps, some explicitly sought to link the intellectual work as an object of property with the author of that work. In 1545, in a commentary upon Roman law, the lawyer François Baudouin considered that intellectual works were priceless treasures of human study and that, as a result, if an author wrote upon paper or parchment that belonged to another, then the author should be entitled to retain the work subject to providing compensation to the owner of the physical material for the cost of the same.44 Some years later, Marion would go even farther with his wellknown assertion that: ’by a common instinct, each man recognises every other to be the master of what he makes, invents, or composes. The author of a book is entirely its master’. In support of this idea, Marion developed an argument by analogy, in which the concept of the property in the work of an author finds a parallel in God’s dominion over his creation:

  • 45 Plaidoyez de M. Simon Marion, advocat en Parlement, Baron de Druy: plaidoyez second, sur l’impress (...)

Even speaking in human terms of the greatness of God, and of His power over the things He made, they say that the Heavens and the Earth belong to Him, since they were created by His word, and that the day and the night are His, since He made the light and the Sun. Such that by analogy, the author of a book is entirely its master [...]45

  • 46 About the appearance of this unusual rhetoric, see Natalie Zemon Davis, ’Beyond the Market: Books (...)
  • 47 The author can release his book, ’granting it the liberty enjoyed by all: this may be accorded pur (...)
  • 48 Troisième dissertation concernant le poëme dramatique en forme de remarques sur la tragédie de M. (...)
  • 49 This was an idea that continued to have some currency well into the nineteenth century. Renouard, (...)

16However remarkable Marion’s plea may seem, it is important to qualify the apparent implications of it. In the first place, in this particular litigation, the author of the work – Antoine Muret – was already dead; indeed, Marion was not pleading in support of the privilege, but was instead seeking its annulment. In fact, the existence of authorial property here was an argument marshalled against the power of the State. Indeed, because divine and natural laws obliged the king to respect the property of his subjects, and, in this case, as the author had already made his work public, the king could not reserve it again to someone else by granting a privilege in relation to the same. More importantly, according to Marion, the property that an author enjoyed in his work ended with the publication of that work: that is, after publication the work can no longer be regarded as private property but rather belongs to everyone. The published work is conceived as a gift made to the public,46 and only a privilege – here referred to as the ’right of patronage’ – granted by the State in the name of the public, and within the context of a tacit social ’contract’, can ensure remuneration in exchange for such publication.47 This idea of a property limited by publication predominates almost until the end of the seventeenth century. In 1663, d’Aubignac writes that when the printed copies had been sold, the author or his bookseller ’does not have any more the right to prevent the use’ of the work ’to all those which buy them [printed copies]; what is done cannot be undone, say our customs, and what we make print is not any more with us’. Each purchaser of a copy is an owner of work and ’can use about it with its will’.48 And so, while some lawyers and barristers during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries did strive to conceive of the work as a thing – and as one that belonged to the author of that work – this notion did not extend to the published work; that is, during this period, property and publication were considered to be incompatible.49 It was not until the eighteenth century that the published work began to be conceived of as a property, a development that turned upon the integration of the author within the system of royal privileges.

2. The integration of the author within the system of royal privileges

  • 50 In this regard, as Frédéric Rideau has demonstrated, the evolution of literary property in France (...)

17How does one explain the way in which the author – a figure initially on the periphery of the privilege system – came to be regarded as the owner of his intellectual work? The most direct explanation lies in the evolution of the system itself. In this regard, it is ironic that the conceit of the author as owner of his intellectual work was an invention of the Parisian booksellers, one designed to assist them in defending their privileges against interference from both provincial competition and the State – a conceptual Trojan horse employed to secure their existing monopoly of the market. This re-imagining of the author – of the author as natural owner of his literary property – also drew upon a number of other influences, and in particular the rise of aesthetic and possessive individualism.50 The attempt of the Parisian booksellers to redefine the author in this way, however, was not without controversy. Indeed, given the implications of this new conception of the author, it was inevitable perhaps that the provincial booksellers would seek to contest it (2.1). Nevertheless, this new conception would prove influential in shaping the reform of the privilege system in 1777 and 1778, an influence that would ultimately prove counterproductive to the best interests of the Parisian booksellers (2.2).

2.1 The author re-invented

  • 51 See for example the Arrêt du Conseil privé du roi from 27 February 1665 (Extrait des registres du (...)
  • 52 Aubry writes that, contrary to books that were common to all people, ’the particular sorts include (...)
  • 53 About the professionalization of letters, see Viala, pp. 270-90; Roger Chartier, ’Figures de l’aut (...)

18During the second half of the seventeenth century, with the support of monarchy,51 the Parisian booksellers came to monopolise the French book trade and, in attempting to bolster their dominance of the market, they began to articulate the notion of the author as the natural owner of his intellectual work. In two reports by Aubry, a barrister for the Parisian booksellers, the author is presented as the owner of any new composition, and it is from the author that the bookseller derives his rights.52 While this idea was developed to support the arguments of the Parisian booksellers, it was also one that was justified by the increasing professionalisation of writing itself. Indeed, as Aubry noted, writing had ’so to speak, become a trade (métier) for earning one’s living’.53

  • 54 Arrêt du Conseil d’Etat portant règlement sur le fait de la librairie et imprimerie, 10 April 1725 (...)
  • 55 ’Louis d’Héricourt’s Memorandum (1725-1726)’, Primary Sources.

19In 1725 this construct of the author was taken a step further. In that year, the monarchy altered its policy in relation to the book trade and commanded the revocation of all abusive privileges held by the Parisian booksellers.54 In response, the Parisian booksellers sought to challenge this order by conflating their privileges with arguments that drew upon a theory of natural and perpetual property rights acquired from the author as owner of the work in question. This line of argument was developed by the lawyer Louis d’Héricourt in a memorandum drafted on behalf of the Parisian booksellers.55 He argued that the work and the exclusive right to print that work were private properties, acquired naturally and originally by the author by virtue of his intellectual labour, and that the author was free to sell his work by contract such that the bookseller who bought it must ’remain perpetually owner’ of that work. In this way the booksellers sought to move the author from the periphery to the centre of the legal regime regulating the production and distribution of books. In short, this new conception of authorship was being invoked by the booksellers to usurp the royal authority as the true source of rights, with the role of the privilege relegated to one of simply protecting the natural and perpetual right of literary property.

  • 56 For example, Louis d’Héricourt writes that ’a Manuscript […] is so much the property of its Author (...)
  • 57 ’It is sure that the master of paper won’t become master of what is written, even if it is a simpl (...)
  • 58 See for example Gerhard Luf, ’Philosophisches Strömungen in der Aufklärung und ihr Einfluss auf da (...)
  • 59 See for example Ernst Kantorowicz, ’La souveraineté de l’artiste. Note sur quelques maximes juridi (...)
  • 60 In particular, Dürer and da Vinci; see for example Erwin Panofsky, ’Artiste, Savant, Génie. Notes (...)
  • 61 In 1787 Ferraud notes that the verb is ’strong with the mode: everyone became [a] creator’(Diction (...)
  • 62 Roland Mortier, L’originalité, une nouvelle catégorie esthétique au siècle des Lumières (Genève: D (...)

20Moreover, whereas during the seventeenth century an author’s ’property’ was tied to the physical manuscript, now the property in question concerned the ’text’ – the work itself, distinct from the manuscript, and regardless of the fact that it had been published.56 At the end of the seventeenth century, the French lawyer Domat had drawn this distinction between the text and the manuscript upon which it is written, asserting that the author of a text – even of a letter – should be regarded as the owner of the same.57 But in France, as in England, it was the work of John Locke that proved decisive in influencing this conception of literary property: if the man is owner of his person and of his labour, then an author could easily be regarded as the owner of his spirit and of the fruit of his intellectual labour.58 In addition, this theory of possessive individualism intertwined with an emergent discourse concerning the creative individual. The legitimacy of being a creator, long reserved to God,59 and, during the Renaissance, extended to some exceptional artists,60 was in the eighteenth century more readily extended to all men.61 At the same time, the concept of originality assumed a new significance as an aesthetic criterion, especially under the influence of the English writer Edward Young. Now, an author was able to give free rein to his imagination and personality.62

  • 63 See in particular Hesse, p. 114; Alain Strowel, ’Liberté, propriété, originalité: retour aux sourc (...)
  • 64 ’Indeed, what can a man possess, if a product of the mind, the unique fruit of his education, his (...)
  • 65 Mémoire sur les propriétés et les privilèges exclusifs de librairie, B.N., Ms. Fr. 22123, n. 50, f (...)
  • 66 About this point, see for example L. Pfister, ’L’œuvre une forme originale. Naissance d’une défini (...)

21This merging of aesthetic and possessive individualism was invoked by the spokesmen of the Parisian booksellers – Diderot in 1763, and Linguet in 1774 and 1777 – to forge the modern conception of the author.63 For Diderot, the work originated within the spirit of the man of letters, within that which makes the person an individual. And, as one’s person is understood to be the first property of man, so too must an original work be considered to be the property of the author.64 For Linguet the composition of a book was an act of ’true creation’; ’if there is a sacred and undeniable property’ he asserted ’it is that of an author to his work’.65 However, both Diderot and Linguet take care to limit the property of the author to the particular ’manner’ in which an author might treat a topic or subject, thereby articulating an essential principle of intellectual property: the distinction between form and idea.66

  • 67 Jean-François Gaultier, Mémoire à consulter, pour les Libraires et Imprimeurs de Lyon, Rouen, Toul (...)
  • 68 Fragments sur la liberté de la presse (1776), in Oeuvres (Paris: Firmin Didot, 1847), II, p. 253; (...)
  • 69 ’Every man owes to society the tribute of his physical and intellectual abilities in exchange for (...)

22While careful to incorporate this distinction within their conception of literary property, Diderot and Linguet were, nevertheless, presenting an argument on behalf of the Parisian booksellers in support of a property in a text lasting in perpetuity; it was one that the provincial booksellers were keen to contest. The provincial booksellers’ spokesman, the lawyer Gaultier, in a very important report,67 rejected the notion of literary property proposed by Diderot and Linguet – a view that was also shared by Condorcet.68 Gaultier and Condorcet argued that, according to the common law, once a work was published it no longer belonged to the author or to the editor of the work but to everyone. Instead, they presented a theory of social contract in connection with a functional conception of the author. For them, every human production originates within the community of ideas upon which everyone can equally and freely draw for inspiration. According to Condorcet, ’the man of genius does not make books for the money’; Gaultier adds that a man of genius is guided by the desire to educate and instruct his fellow man. When he communicates his thoughts to society, an author does so in exchange for the goods that society has already provided for him.69 For this contribution to public instruction he will be able to receive a reward – a privilege – but a privilege that is necessarily temporary in nature. That is, it is for the king to limit the duration of these exclusive privileges in order to preserve a public domain, a condition of competition, the free circulation of ideas, and the progress of Enlightenment.

23How did the monarchy react to this debate?

2.2 The compatibility of property and privilege

  • 70 Chrétien Guillaume de Lamoignon de Malesherbes, Mémoires sur la librairie. Mémoires sur la liberté (...)
  • 71 ’Nottes que j’ai remises à M. Marin pour le mettre en état de faire les siennes’, Bibliothèque nat (...)
  • 72 F. Rideau, ’Crébillon’s Case (1749)’, Primary Sources.
  • 73 Jugement rendu par M. de Sartine, Lieutenant Général de Police de la Ville, Prévôté & Vicomté de P (...)
  • 74 Dernière réponse signifiée et consultation pour le Sieur Luneau, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, (...)
  • 75 Following the expression used by the Bureau de la Chancellerie, an office competent to consider li (...)

24From the middle of the eighteenth century, the king and his ministers began to adopt a more favourable attitude to both authors and their legal situation. For example, Malesherbes, Director of the Librairie, suggested that writers should be free of the corporative monopoly.70 The inspecteur de la librairie, Joseph d’Hémery, advocated the integration of writers within the privilege system and in particular that privileges should be granted exclusively to the authors for the duration of their life.71 Moreover, during this time authors (and their heirs) also enjoyed some success before the royal courts. Three such examples can be given. The first concerned the dramatic author Crebillon. Prosecuted by his creditors, Crebillon argued before the Royal Council of State that the remuneration accruing from his literary works was not seizable by those creditors as it enabled him to live and encouraged him to produce new works. The Council adjudicated in his favour.72 Some years later, in 1769, another writer, Luneau de Boisgermain, came into conflict with the Parisian booksellers. Accusing Luneau of ’meddling in the book trade’, the booksellers secured an order for the confiscation of several boxes of books that Luneau had arranged to have distributed to various provincial booksellers; Luneau however was successful in having the confiscation order overturned.73 This case is particularly important because Linguet, Luneau’s barrister, co-opted the theory of literary property developed by the Parisian booksellers and turned it against the booksellers own best interests. Linguet argued that the author was the natural owner of his work and that a royal privilege was simply a confirmation of that authorial property; as a consequence, he continued, an author was free to enjoy his property as he wished, a freedom which allowed him to sell his work without regard to the booksellers’ corporative monopoly.74 In the third example, from 1777, the Royal Council allotted to Fénelon’s heirs a right to the works of the writer by asserting that the works are a ’good legitimately owned by the family’.75

  • 76 Arrêt du Conseil du 30 août 1777, portant règlement sur la durée des privilèges, Isambert, 25, p. (...)
  • 77 Hesse, pp. 113-4, 129. See also Borchgrave, pp. 22, 33, and Dury, p. 279.
  • 78 Letter from 19 February 1778 addressed to the Académie française, in Laboulaye and Guiffrey, pp. 6 (...)

25In spite of these judicial pronouncements – or perhaps because of the attention that these decisions, as well as the opinions of administrators such as Malesherbes and d’Hémery, had drawn to the situation of the author – the monarchy reformed the privilege system with two decrees of the Royal Council in 1777 and 1778,76 the interpretation of which has given rise to notable differences of opinion. Some historians, such as Carla Hesse, refuse to see in these reforms the consecration of the author’s property; instead she argues that under the 1777 decree the author was simply a construction of an ’absolutist police state’ – one designed to refute the concept of literary property as a natural right, while at the same time reaffirming the ’absolutist interpretation of royal law as an emanation of the king’s grace alone’.77 In my view, however, Hesse’s interpretation is incorrect. I would suggest instead that these royal decrees do indeed give recognition to the concept of authorial property. In support of this reading, for example, consider the letter addressed to the Académie Française by the drafter of the decrees, Miromesnil, the Keeper of the Seal. He writes that it appeared ’fair to him to consecrate in favour of men of letters a property on their intellectual productions’, and also ’to make them enjoy all the advantages able to encourage their talent’.78 The property of the author here rests upon two foundations, that of natural right and utilitarianism – it is both a just reward for the labour of the author as well as an encouragement to create for the benefit of all.

  • 79 This economic theory was influenced by Locke’s theory of property, and favoured the abolition of t (...)
  • 80 See also Philippe Gaudrat, Propriété littéraire et artistique. Droits des auteurs. Droits moraux. (...)

26Miromesnil’s letter, however, does not explain why the decrees continue with the operation of the privilege system instead of formally acknowledging the absolute nature of the author’s right. Influenced by physiocratic economic theory,79 and unwilling to hand over the control of the book trade to the Parisian booksellers, the monarchy decided to confirm a perpetual property in favour of authors and their heirs, while denying that property to the booksellers. In this way, the retention of the privilege system ensured that the State also retained a measure of control over the book trade in general, while at the same time giving recognition to the primacy of an author’s labour over the activities of a bookseller.80 As regards the latter, for example, the preamble to the 1777 decree asserts that the author, on account of his labour, ’has a greater right to a more enduring favour’, whereas the bookseller ’may only expect the favour granted to him to be proportional to his total expenditure and to the size of his operation’. Thereby, it seems clear that the author’s right, opposite to the bookseller’s favour, is a private right, founded of author’s labour, recognised by the power and prior to the privilege.

  • 81 This recognition of author’s property was subsequently confirmed by another decree of the Royal Co (...)
  • 82 See the Preamble and Article 5 of the Arrêt du Conseil du 30 août 1777 portant règlement sur la du (...)
  • 83 Ibid.

27The differentiation between the interests of the author and the bookseller, as well as the nature of the rights enjoyed by the author under these decrees, provides a significant contrast with the situation in England at this time. For one thing, the 1777 decree acknowledges that an author enjoys a right in his work prior to the grant of the privilege. Moreover, the author’s right acknowledged is the property of the privilege, the propriété de droit, and thereby the property of the intellectual work itself.81 Also, the duration of the author’s creative labour is perpetual in nature, granted for the benefit of the author and his heirs.82 Moreover, under the influence of the physiocrats, the right secured to the author as the owner of the work is a right to use and enjoy that work; that is, the author was entitled to ’sell that work in his own home’, regardless of the corporative monopoly of the Parisian booksellers.83

  • 84 Article 2 of Arrêt du Conseil du 31 juillet 1778, portant règlement sur les privilèges en librairi (...)
  • 85 Réponse signifiée pour le Sieur Luneau, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Manus. Fçs. 22 069, n° 5 (...)
  • 86 See for example F. Kawohl, ’Kant: On the Unlawfulness of Reprinting (1785)’, Primary Sources.
  • 87 Article 5 of the Arrêt du Conseil du 30 août 1777 portant règlement sur la durée des privilèges, I (...)
  • 88 Arrêt du Conseil du 30 août 1777, portant règlement sur la durée des privilèges, Preamble and Arti (...)

28In addition, the decree of 1778 provided that an author might contract with a bookseller to publish his work and still retain control over this work. That is, the author could delegate the printing and sale of his work to a bookseller without losing his property therein.84 That the contracts between an author and bookseller might be regulated in this way was suggested by Linguet in his pleas for Luneau,85 and anticipates, to a certain extent, the approach that Kant would later adopt.86 Should, however, the author actually transfer his privilege to a bookseller then, under the 1777 decree, the duration of the privilege, as a result of that transfer, would be reduced to the life of the author.87 Entitled only to these temporary privileges, the booksellers were relegated to the role of simple intermediary between the author and the public – the result of a concerted effort on the part of the monarchy to undermine the monopoly which the Parisian booksellers had previously held over the book trade, and to encourage increased public access to more affordable works.88

3. Conclusion

  • 89 See Sur l’état actuel de l’imprimerie. Lettres de M. Panckoucke à MM. Les Libraires et Imprimeurs (...)

29Within a century, under the combined influence of various factors – legal and economic, social and cultural – the author passed from the periphery to the centre of (or at least to a very comfortable place within) the privilege system. Moreover, the idea that the intellectual work was the private property of the author, property which would survive publication, was also admitted. However, both of these developments were contested at the time, and both were vulnerable to forthcoming changes within the legal regime. In 1789, the subtle balance that the royal decrees had established between the interests of the author, the bookseller, and the public, was shattered with the abolition of the privilege system. With the Revolution, the debates on the nature and duration of literary property were revived with an even greater intensity. Extreme positions were adopted by those, on the one hand, who claimed that any property in a work ended with its publication, and by those, on the other hand, who sought to reassert the absolute control over a work formerly enjoyed by the old corporations. Between these two, more moderate proposals emerged. Panckcoucke, for example, favoured the adoption of the English Statute of Anne.89 Sieyès, by contrast, advocated a property right that came to an end shortly after the author’s death, and it was, in the end, the proposals of Sieyès that would be enshrined in the two laws of 19 January 1791 (concerning dramatic performances) and 19 July 1793 (concerning literary and artistic property). The combined effect of these legislative measures was to create a new legal regime, less favourable for the author than the royal decrees of 1777 and 1778, but nevertheless one that was founded upon property, as well as one that sought to strike a balance between private and general interests, between private and public property, and between the exclusive rights of the author and his beneficiaries and the freedom of the public to make use of and exploit published works.

Notes

1 This article is based upon a paper that was delivered at the conference launching the Primary Sources website on 19 March 2008 (www.copyrighthistory.org). My thanks to Lionel Bently and Martin Kretschmer for their invitation to speak at that event, and to Ronan Deazley for his editorial assistance in preparing this paper for publication

2 Lettre sur le commerce des livres (1763). Although this text has been often published, it is interesting to read the original manuscript preserved at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (Mss. Fr. (Naf) 24232 n°3) and now published with an accompanying commentary by F. Rideau, ’Diderot’s Letter on the book trade (1763)’, Primary Sources. About the history of this text and the history presented within this text see: Jean-Yves Mollier, Postface, Lettre sur le commerce de la librairie (Paris: éd. Mille et une nuits, 2003); Roger Chartier, Inscrire et effacer. Culture écrite et littérature (xie-xviiie siècle) (Paris: Gallimard Seuil, 2005), p. 177.

3 Edouard Laboulaye and Georges Guiffrey, La propriété littéraire au xviiie siècle. Recueil de pièces et de documents (Paris, 1859). In contrast, some years later François Malapert published an historical study to refute Laboulaye’s thesis of perpetual property: ’Histoire abrégée de la législation sur la propriété littéraire avant 1789’, Journal des économistes (1880), p. 252; and (1881), p. 437.

4 See for example Pierre Masse, Le droit moral de l’auteur sur son œuvre littéraire ou artistique (Paris, 1906), p. 35: ’[L]e droit moral [...] a existé de tout temps. A Athènes et à Rome, alors que les auteurs étaient sans droit pécuniaire, le droit moral était reconnu et sanctionné, sinon par une disposition expresse de la loi, du moins par la conscience publique’. See also André Morillot, De la protection accordée aux œuvres d’art, aux photographies aux dessins et modèles industriels et aux brevets d’invention dans l’Empire d’Allemagne (Paris – Berlin, 1878), p. 117.

5 Consider for example the deputy Patrick Bloche who, in support of the proposal for a global license that would have legalised the exchange of copyright-protected content on the internet in exchange for a fixed income, presented before the National Assembly, called upon the remarks of the 19th century lawyer Auguste-Charles Renouard in support of the proposition that ’the droit d’auteur is a social contract’ (Assemblée Nationale, 21 December 2005, 1rst seance, pp. 8606-7).

6 Even if I don’t entirely agree with her interpretation, Prof Ginsburg’s study has encouraged a renewed attention as to the significance of the copyright regime during the time of the French Revolution. Jane Ginsburg, ’A Tale of two copyrights: literary property in Revolutionary France and America’, Revue Internationale du Droit d’auteur, 147 (1991), 125. See also Carla Hesse, ’Enlightenment Epistemology and the Laws of Autorship in Revolutionary France, 1777-1793’, Representations 30: Special issue on Law and the Order of Culture (Spring, 1990), pp. 109-37. For the text of, and a commentary upon, Le Chapelier’s Report, see F. Rideau, ’Le Chapelier’s report (1791)’, Primary Sources.

7 David Saunders, ’Dropping the Subject: An Argument for a Positive History of Authorship and the Law of Copyright’, in Of Authors and Origins. Essays on Copyright law, ed. by Brad Sherman and Alain Strowell (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), p. 93.

8 See for example: Pierre Recht, Le droit d’auteur, une nouvelle forme de propriété. Histoire et théorie (Paris: LGDJ, 1969), p. 20; Maxime Dury, La censure. La prédication silencieuse (Paris: Publisud, 1995), p. 271.

9 Saunders, p. 94. See also C. Haynes, ’Reassessing ”Genius” in Studies of Authorship. The State of the Discipline’, Book History, 8 (2005), 287-320 (p. 291).

10 L. Pfister, ’L’auteur, propriétaire de son œuvre. La formation du droit d’auteur du xvie siècle à la loi de 1957’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Strasbourg, 1999), pp. 54-90, 483-8.

11 Ibid., pp. 50-60. See also Henri Falk, Les privileges en librairie sous l’Ancien Régime (Paris, 1905); Raymond Birn, ’Profit of Ideas: Privilège en librairie in Eighteenth-Century France’, Eighteenth Century Studies (1970-1), 131-68; Frédéric Rideau, La formation du droit de propriété littéraire en France et en Grande-Bretagne: une convergence oubliée (Aix-Marseille: PUAM, 2004), pp. 33-60.

12 Following the expression employed in 1579 by the king’s prosecutor Barnabé Brisson (Recueil de plaidoyez notables de plusieurs anciens et fameux advocats de la Cour de Parlement ...et divers arrêts (Paris, 1644)), p. 512, and in 1586 by the barrister Simon Marion (Plaidoyez de M. Simon Marion, advocat en Parlement, Baron de Druy: plaidoyez second, sur l’impression des Œuvres de Sénèque, revueuës et annotées par feu Marc Antoine Muret, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Manus. Fçs. 22071, n°28). For the text of the latter document, with an accompanying commentary, see F. Rideau, ’Simon Marion’s plea on privileges (1586)’, Primary Sources.

13 See G. Post, K. Giocarinis and R. Kay, The Medieval Heritage of Humanistic Ideal: ”scientia donum dei est, unde vendi non potest” ’, in Traditio, 11 (1955), especially pp. 197-210.

14 Pfister, ’L’auteur, propriétaire’, pp. 123-60; Rideau, La formation, pp. 52-9.

15 See in particular Roger Chartier, ’Qu’est-ce qu’un auteur? Révision d’une généalogie’, Bulletin de la société de philosophie, 94 (2000), 15.

16 For example, in 1316 the statutes of the University of Paris relating to copyists states that: ’Item nullus stationnarius denegabit exemplaria alicui etiam volenti per illus aliud exemplar facere.’ Statuta Universitatis Paris. De librariis et stationariis, 4 décembre 1316, in Chartularium Universitatis Parisiensis, Paris, 1891, 2, p. 190.

17 In the Epître dédicatoire published at the beginning of Virgile printed by Ulrich Gering in Paris in 1478, Paul Maillet writes that: 'Certains libraires, voyant un bon livre imprimé par un autre Maître, parfaitement bien, et avec grande dépense, le contrefont aussitôt par une autre impression fort négligée et remplie d’un grand nombre de fautes qui coûte peu d’argent; faisant perdre au premier par cette malice, le gain légitime qu’il pouvait espérer’. About the early privilege system in France, see Elisabeth Armstrong, Before Copyright. The French Book-privileges System. 1498-1526 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 21.

18 The royal ordinance of Moulins (February 1566) prohibited the publication of any book without ’Our leave and permission, and letters of privilege.’ Decrusy, Isambert, Jourdan, Recueil général des anciennes lois françaises depuis l’an 420 jusqu’à la Révolution de 1789, Paris, Belin-Leprieur, 1821-1833, 14, p. 210 (here-after: Isambert).

19 Letter to Pierre Gillis, Fribourg-en-Brisgau, 28 January 1530; about this letter and others testimonies of Erasme’s complaints, see K. Crousaz, Erasme et le pouvoir de l’imprimerie (Lausanne: Antipodes, 2005), pp. 89-105.

20 Preface of the edition of Œuvres de Clément Marot (Lyon, 1538).

21 For example, Marot writes in the request for his privilege in 1539 that ’il se trouve de mes œuvres courantes et disposées par tous les lieux et endroits de ce royaume, qui sont imprimées et mises en lumière avec impressions si impertinentes et mal ordonnées que le plus souvent l’on y voit plus de faultes que de bons mots’(Catalogue des actes de François Ier, Paris, 1887, 8, n° 33273). This privilege is published in P.A. Becker, ’Das Druckprivileg für Marots Werke von 1538’, Zeitschrift für französische Sprache und Litteratur, 42 (1914), 224-5.

22 About this myth, see Alain Viala, Naissance de l’écrivain (Paris: éditions de Minuit, 1985), p. 104.

23 Edit de Châteaubriant du 27 juin 1551, Article 8, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Manus. Fçs 22061, n 8.

24 Michel Foucault, ’Qu’est-ce qu’un auteur?’, Bulletin de la société française de philosophie (1969), 73-104.

25 As some scholars have suggested. See for example: Jean de Borchgrave, Evolution historique du droit d’auteur (Bruxelles: Larcier, 1916), p. 12; G. Boytha, ’La justification de la protection des droits d’auteur à la lumière de leur développement historique’, Revue Internationale du Droit d’Auteur (1992), 52-100 (p. 60); and, more recently, Bernard Edelman, Le sacre de l’auteur (Paris: Le Seuil, 2004), pp. 151-2.

26 Armstrong, p. 36-7. See also Cynthia Brown, Poets, Patrons and Printers. Crisis of Authority in Late Medieval France (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995), p. 17.

27 See for example the privilege granted to Pierre Gringore for Les folles entreprises (Paris: 1505). See also the privilege granted to Eloi d’Armeval, reproduced in F. Rideau, ’Eloy d’Amerval’s privilege (1507)’, Primary Sources.

28 Indeed, authors secured privileges more frequently in the seventeenth than in the sixteenth century. According to a statistical study by Nicolas Schapira (Un professionnel des lettres au xviie siècle. Valentin Conrart: une histoire sociale (Paris: Champ Vallon, 2003), p. 126), the number of the privileges granted to the authors between 1636 and 1665 increases from 24.5 % to 43.5 %.

29 The privilege obtained by Pierre Ronsard for Le bocage, edited in Paris, 1554, is reproduced in Œuvres complètes (Paris, 1930), 6, p. 3.

30 This Decree required printers to obtain the consent of the author (or his heirs) before printing and selling their work; the Decree is reproduced with an accompanying commentary in J. Kostylo, ’Venetian Decree on Author-Printer Relations (1545)’, Primary Sources.

31 Royal privileges were granted ’sauf le droit d’autrui’ meaning that if a third party suffered damage or loss because of the privilege then he or she was entitled to dispute or challenge the grant of the privilege.

32 See the Preface of the authorized edition of Plaidoyers et harangues de Lemaistre (Paris, 1659).

33 See Molière’s Preface to the Précieuses ridicules (Paris, 1660), in which he writes that he had fallen ’into disgrace to see a stolen copy’ of his play ’in the hands of the booksellers accompanied by a privilege’.

34 Dictionnaire universel (Rotterdam, 1690), see: ’Privilège’.

35 G. Defaux, ’Trois cas d’écrivains éditeurs dans la première moitié du xvie siècle: Marot, Rabelais, Dolet’, Travaux de littérature, 14 (2001), pp. 91 et seq.

36 SeeArticle14of Lettres patentes du Roy pour le règlement des libraires, imprimeurs et relieurs de la ville de Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Manus. Fçs 22061, n° 69, reproduced with an accompanying commentary in F. Rideau, ’Book trade regulations and incorporation of the Parisian book trade (1618)’, Primary Sources: ’les auteurs des livres ou correcteurs ne pourront avoir d’imprimerie ni presses, en leurs maisons ou ailleurs, pour imprimer ou faire imprimer leurs livres, ni les vendre, ni faire afficher, sous leurs noms ou autres’.

37 About this litigation, and for other examples, see Pfister, ’L’auteur, propriétaire’, pp. 113-9.

38 ’Si l’on privoit les Auteurs de la faculté de vendre eux-mêmes leurs Livres, ce seroit leur ôter les moyens de subsister’ et ’les détourner de composer’. Le Pelletier’s argument is reproduced in the Mémoire pour les Imprimeurs et Libraires de Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Manus Fçs. 22067, n. 156, f. 304.

39 Arrest du Conseil d’Etat du Roy du 27 janvier 1700, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Manus. Fçs. 22067, n. 160, f. 312.

40 See for example the observations of the sixteenth-century lawyer François Connan, drawing a distinction between painting and writing in this regard: Commentarius Iuris civilis, Paris, 1553, tome 1, Lib. III, cap. VI, f. 171, v. 1: ’Hoc differunt, quod pictura magis ad rerum uerarum naturaliumque similitudinem accommodatur, ut eas oculis tanquam praesentes offerat: scriptura uero fatis habet, si animi alterius cogitata nobis declaret, et nobiscum tanquam uiuo sermone colloquatur’. For a more general discussion of the comments of the medieval jurists on these various rules, see: Paola Maffei, Tabula picta. Pittura e scrittura nel pensiero dei glossatori (Milan: Giuffrè, 1988); Marta Madero, Tabula picta. La peinture et l’écriture dans le droit médiéval (Paris: éditions de l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, 2004).

41 Commentarius in quatuor libros institutionum iuris civilis (Lyon, 1588), p. 125: ’praetera charta non est pars historia Liuianae, aut carminis Virgiliani: neque quum Virgilium nos habere dicimus, chartam in aliqua ipsius parte numerus’.

42 Plaidoyez de M. Simon Marion, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Manus. Fçs. 22071, n. 28, f. 62.

43 Plaidoyez de Me Jacques Corbin, Paris, 1611, chap. CXIIII (Du privilège des Livres et de l’Imprimerie), p. 348 (with the decision of the Parliament of Paris from the 25 February 1610). Before Corbin, see also Cardin Le Bret, Plaidoyers dans Œuvres (Paris, 1689), p. 470, quatorzième action (l’immunité des excellens ouvrages), with the decision of the Parliament of Paris from June 1596.

44 Justiniani Institutionem seu Elementorum libri quattuor, Paris, 1545, ad. 2, 1, 33: ’nulla pateretur ratio, eam haberi vilis charti rationem, ut vel tuarum lucubrationem inaestimabilem iacturam facere, vel eas aliis communicare cogaris [...] ergo si meum carmen, historiam vel orationem (sacrosanctas et inaestimabiles hominis studiosi divitias) in charta forte tua scripserim: satis erit me tibi tuae chartae precium solvere’.

45 Plaidoyez de M. Simon Marion, advocat en Parlement, Baron de Druy: plaidoyez second, sur l’impression des Œuvres de Sénèque, revueuës et annotées par feu Marc Antoine Muret, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Manus. Fçs. 22071, n. 28; see F. Rideau, ’Simon Marion’s plea on privileges (1586)’, Primary Sources. About this argument by analogy, see L. Pfister ’L’auteur, propriétaire’, pp. 143-6.

46 About the appearance of this unusual rhetoric, see Natalie Zemon Davis, ’Beyond the Market: Books as Gifts in Sixteenth-century France’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 33 (1983), 69-88.

47 The author can release his book, ’granting it the liberty enjoyed by all: this may be accorded purely and simply, with no restriction of any kind, or with a reservation, by a kind of right of patronage, that no other person may print it before a certain time. Which is effectively a contract without a fixed name, mutually binding, since there is a fair obligation on both sides, the one not wishing to give to the public his personal property, unless the public grant him this prerogative in return […] it is ungrateful to contravene the law of benefit, and to attempt to steal from the public sphere something which the munificence of its creator has put there, in order to appropriate it for oneself’; ’Simon Marion’s plea on privileges (1586)’.

48 Troisième dissertation concernant le poëme dramatique en forme de remarques sur la tragédie de M. Corneille (Paris, 1663), p. 11-2. A similar testimony is offered by Richelet who, in the same period, writes that ’an author who gives to the public his work gives it up and strips [the] property right’ (Dictionnaire de la langue française (Paris, 1690), see: ’Plagiaire’).

49 This was an idea that continued to have some currency well into the nineteenth century. Renouard, writing in 1838, considers that ’to give and retain the thought is impossible’. On the use, in the nineteenth century, of this argument concerning the incompatibility of property and publication, see Laurent Pfister, ’La propriété littéraire est-elle une propriété? Controverses sur la nature du droit d’auteur au xixe siècle’, Revue Internationale du droit d’Auteur, 205 (2005), 116-209.

50 In this regard, as Frédéric Rideau has demonstrated, the evolution of literary property in France has parallels with developments in England at this time (even if substantive differences between the two regimes remained); see Rideau, La formation.

51 See for example the Arrêt du Conseil privé du roi from 27 February 1665 (Extrait des registres du Conseil Privé du Roy, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Manus. Fçs 22071, n. 107) which confirmed that the Parisian booksellers could obtain indefinite extensions to their privileges for ’new’ books (that is, books composed after the invention of printing). See F. Rideau, ’French Book Trade Regulations (1665)’, Primary Sources.

52 Aubry writes that, contrary to books that were common to all people, ’the particular sorts include all the books which have been produced for the first time in this Kingdom by the individual industry of a bookseller or by the labour of an author who cedes to the latter his work and his right, in some way which the two of them have agreed on Together’. He adds that ’books of recent composition, produced by the labour of a modern author or by the industry of a bookseller, are all the more of private right [sont de droit particulier], given that no one else, apart from that author or bookseller, could possibly claim any sort of property in them’. Mémoire sur la contestation qui est entre les libraires de Paris et ceux de Lyon au sujet des privilèges et des continuations que le Roy accorde, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Manus. Fçs. 22071, n. 177, also registred in 22119, n. 21; see F. Rideau, ’Memorandum on the Opposition between the Parisian and the Provincial Booksellers (1690s)’, Primary Sources.

53 About the professionalization of letters, see Viala, pp. 270-90; Roger Chartier, ’Figures de l’auteur’, in Culture écrite et société. L’ordre des livres (xivexviiie siècle) (Paris: Albin Michel, 1996), p. 51.

54 Arrêt du Conseil d’Etat portant règlement sur le fait de la librairie et imprimerie, 10 April 1725, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Manus. Fçs. 22062, n. 41. Also reproduced in Isambert, 21, p. 287.

55 ’Louis d’Héricourt’s Memorandum (1725-1726)’, Primary Sources.

56 For example, Louis d’Héricourt writes that ’a Manuscript […] is so much the property of its Author, that it is no more permissible to deprive him of it than it is to deprive him of money, goods, or even land since, as we have observed, it is the fruit of his personal labour, which he must be at liberty to dispose of as he pleases’; elsewhere, d’Héricourt speaks about the ’property of texts’; ’Louis d’Héricourt’s Memorandum (1725-1726)’, Primary Sources. See also the bookseller Michel-Antoine David, author of the article ’Droit de copie’, in Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, vol. 5: ’Droit de copie, terme de Librairie, c’est le droit de propriété que le libraire a sur un ouvrage littéraire, manuscrit ou imprimé’. He added: ’droit de copie, ce qui signifie proprement droit de propriété sur l’ouvrage […] s’il y a dans la nature un effet dont la propriété ne puisse pas être disputée à celui qui la possède, ce doivent être les productions de l’esprit’.

57 ’It is sure that the master of paper won’t become master of what is written, even if it is a simple letter’ (Les lois civiles dans leur ordre naturel, Paris, 1727, Liv. 3, tit. 7, section 2, art. 15, p. 298). In another abstract, Domat distinguishes between the intellectual work and the material upon which it is written (Les quatre livres du droit public, Liv. 1, tit. 13, in Les lois civiles dans leur ordre naturel, le droit public et legume delectus, 2, p. 98).

58 See for example Gerhard Luf, ’Philosophisches Strömungen in der Aufklärung und ihr Einfluss auf das Urheberrecht’, in Woher kommt das Urheberrecht und wohin geht es?, ed. by R. Dittrich (Wien: Manz, 1988), pp. 11-2; Diethelm Klippel, ’Die Idee des geistigen Eigentums in Naturrecht und Rechtsphilosophie des 19. Jahrhunderts’, in Historische Studien zum Urheberrecht in Europa, ed. by Elmar Wadle (Berlin: Duncker et Humblot, 1993), pp. 125-6. About Locke’s writings, see Laura Moscati, ’Un memorandum di John Locke tra censorship e copyright’, Rivista di storia del diritto italiano, LXXVI (2003), 69.

59 See for example Ernst Kantorowicz, ’La souveraineté de l’artiste. Note sur quelques maximes juridiques et les théories de l’art à la Renaissance’, trad. L Mayali, in Mourir pour la patrie (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1984), p. 43.

60 In particular, Dürer and da Vinci; see for example Erwin Panofsky, ’Artiste, Savant, Génie. Notes sur la ”Renaissance-Dämmerung”’, in L’œuvre d’art et ses significations. Essais sur les arts visuels, ed. by M. et B. Teyssèdre (Paris: Gallimard, 1993), p. 128.

61 In 1787 Ferraud notes that the verb is ’strong with the mode: everyone became [a] creator’(Dictionnaire critique de la langue française, Marseille, 1787-8, see: ’Créer’, p. 626 b).

62 Roland Mortier, L’originalité, une nouvelle catégorie esthétique au siècle des Lumières (Genève: Droz, 1982), pp. 50 et seq.

63 See in particular Hesse, p. 114; Alain Strowel, ’Liberté, propriété, originalité: retour aux sources du droit d’auteur’, Journal des procès (1994), p. 7; Chartier, ’Figures de l’auteur’, p. 51; Chartier, ’Qu’est-ce qu’un auteur?’, p. 14. In relation to England, see Mark Rose, Authors and owners. The Invention of Copyright (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), pp. 113-27. For commentary upon Germany, see Martha Woodmansee, The Author, Art, and the Market. Rereading the History of Aesthetics (New York: Columbia Press, 1994), pp. 35-55.

64 ’Indeed, what can a man possess, if a product of the mind, the unique fruit of his education, his study, his efforts, his time, his research, his observation; if the finest hours, the finest moments of his life; if his own thoughts, the feelings of his heart, the most precious part of himself, that part which does not perish, that which immortalises him, cannot be said to belong to him? What comparison can there be between a man, the very substance of a man, his soul, and a field, a meadow, a tree or a vine which, at the beginning of time, nature offered equally to all men, and which the individual claimed for himself only by cultivation, the first legitimate means of possession? Who has more right than the author to use his goods by giving or selling them?’ Letter on the Book Trade, Paris (1763), Bibliothèque nationale de France, Manus. Fçs (Naf) 24232, n. 3; see ’Diderot’s Letter on the Book Trade (1763)’, Primary Sources.

65 Mémoire sur les propriétés et les privilèges exclusifs de librairie, B.N., Ms. Fr. 22123, n. 50, f. 224. See also the memorandum from 1777: F. Rideau, ’Linguet’s memorandum (1777)’, Primary Sources.

66 About this point, see for example L. Pfister, ’L’œuvre une forme originale. Naissance d’une définition juridique (xviiiexixe siècles)’, in Littérature et nation, actes du colloque Le plagiat littéraire, ed. by Hélène Maurel-Indart (2002), 245-68 (pp. 252-6).

67 Jean-François Gaultier, Mémoire à consulter, pour les Libraires et Imprimeurs de Lyon, Rouen, Toulouse, Marseille et Nismes, concernant les privilèges de librairie et continuation d’iceux, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Manus. Fçs. 22073, n. 144; see F. Rideau, ’Gaultier’s Memorandum for the Provincial Booksellers (1776)’, Primary Sources.

68 Fragments sur la liberté de la presse (1776), in Oeuvres (Paris: Firmin Didot, 1847), II, p. 253; see F. Rideau, ’Fragments on the Freedom of the Press (1847)’, Primary Sources. About Condorcet’s analysis see, in particular, Hesse, p. 111.

69 ’Every man owes to society the tribute of his physical and intellectual abilities in exchange for that which he receives from the other individuals who comprise it. The man of genius, who communicates his ideas to society, is only returning, in exchange, the product of those ideas that he has received from society’; see ’Gaultier’s memorandum for the provincial booksellers (1776)’.

70 Chrétien Guillaume de Lamoignon de Malesherbes, Mémoires sur la librairie. Mémoires sur la liberté de la presse, presented by Roger Chartier (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1994), pp. 160-1.

71 ’Nottes que j’ai remises à M. Marin pour le mettre en état de faire les siennes’, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Manus. Fçs 22073, n° 85. About this memorandum, which consists of notes upon Diderot’s Letter on the book trade, see Pfister ’L’auteur, propriétaire’, pp. 290, 294-308. About the testimonies of royal officers, see also Birn, p. 155.

72 F. Rideau, ’Crébillon’s Case (1749)’, Primary Sources.

73 Jugement rendu par M. de Sartine, Lieutenant Général de Police de la Ville, Prévôté & Vicomté de Paris […] Entre le Sieur Luneau de Boisjermain, et les Syndic & Adjoints de la Librairie & Imprimerie de Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France: Manus. Fçs. 22073 n. 10; see F. Rideau, ’Luneau de Boisjermain’s case (1770)’, Primary Sources.

74 Dernière réponse signifiée et consultation pour le Sieur Luneau, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Manus. Fçs. 22069, n° 7: ’mes pensées, le manuscrit auquel je les confie, sont encore plus à moi que ma maison ou mon champ. Ces biens par leur nature étaient susceptibles d’une jouissance indivise: la politique seule en a restreint le partage; mais mes idées à qui sont-elles? Qui peut sans mon consentement, prétendre en partager le domaine? [...] Y a-t-il un être au monde qui puisse en revendiquer la possession, ou la disposition exclusive, au préjudice de celui qui les a conçues et enfantées’. Réponse signifiée pour le Sieur Luneau, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Manus. Fçs 22069, n. 5, p. 29: ’y a-t-il [une loi], peut-il y en avoir qui défende à des propriétaires de se réserver l’administration de leur bien, de garder sous leurs yeux le produit de leurs récoltes, de prétendre seuls au gouvernement des fruits que leur a procuré une exploitation sage et bien entendue? Tel est précisément le cas d’un homme de lettres en général, quand il a fait les frais de l’impression de son ouvrage. Cet ouvrage en manuscrit étoit son bien sans doute, il lui appartenoit exclusivement; quand il a été imprimé, en vertu d’un privilège qui confirme encore cette propriété, a-t-il changé de nature? [...] Ce livre, dont l’auteur peut se réserver la garde et la possession exclusive quand il étoit en manuscrit, il peut donc aussi le retenir dans ses mains, même après qu’il a passé sous la presse. Cette conduite ne viole pas la loi [...]. Tous usent également de la prérogative accordée par le droit social et consacrée par les institutions civiles d’entasser, autour d’eux, sous leur main, l’objet de leur propriété. L’auteur à cet égard ne pourroit, sans la plus cruelle injustice, être placé dans un rang différent des autres propriétaires’. About this litigation and Linguet’s arguments, see Pfister, ’L’auteur, propriétaire’, pp. 326-40; Rideau, La formation, pp. 132-4.

75 Following the expression used by the Bureau de la Chancellerie, an office competent to consider litigation about privileges (Archives Nationales, E. 2533, n. 241).

76 Arrêt du Conseil du 30 août 1777, portant règlement sur la durée des privilèges, Isambert, 25, p. 110. See also Bibliothèque nationale de France, Manus. Fçs. 22073, n. 146, reproduced with accompanying commentary in F. Rideau, ’French Decree of 30 August 1777, On the Duration of Privileges (1777)’, Primary Sources; Arrêt du Conseil du 31 juillet 1778, portant règlement sur les privilèges en librairie et les contrefaçons, Isambert, 25, p. 371.

77 Hesse, pp. 113-4, 129. See also Borchgrave, pp. 22, 33, and Dury, p. 279.

78 Letter from 19 February 1778 addressed to the Académie française, in Laboulaye and Guiffrey, pp. 627-8.

79 This economic theory was influenced by Locke’s theory of property, and favoured the abolition of trade corporations; indeed, one year before the 1777 decree, the physiocratic minister, Turgot, had propsed in vain to have the corporations abolished. About the influence of physiocratic theory on droit d’auteur, see Pfister, ’L’auteur, propriétaire’, p. 335.

80 See also Philippe Gaudrat, Propriété littéraire et artistique. Droits des auteurs. Droits moraux. Théorie générale du droit moral, Jurisclasseur, fasc. 1210, 2001, n/ 11.

81 This recognition of author’s property was subsequently confirmed by another decree of the Royal Council from 1786 in favour of musicians (expressly recognising the ’property rights’ of musicians). This decree is reproduced with and accompanying commentary in F. Rideau, ’French Decree on Musical Publications (1786)’, Primary Sources.

82 See the Preamble and Article 5 of the Arrêt du Conseil du 30 août 1777 portant règlement sur la durée des privilèges, Isambert, 25, p. 110.

83 Ibid.

84 Article 2 of Arrêt du Conseil du 31 juillet 1778, portant règlement sur les privilèges en librairie et les contrefaçons, Isambert, 25, pp. 371 et seq.

85 Réponse signifiée pour le Sieur Luneau, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Manus. Fçs. 22 069, n° 5, p. 14: ’Lors même que ces Marchands font imprimer ou vendent des livres en leur nom en apparence, ils ne sont encore que les représentants, les mandataires de l’homme de lettres dont ils ont acquis les droits’.

86 See for example F. Kawohl, ’Kant: On the Unlawfulness of Reprinting (1785)’, Primary Sources.

87 Article 5 of the Arrêt du Conseil du 30 août 1777 portant règlement sur la durée des privilèges, Isambert, 25, p. 110.

88 Arrêt du Conseil du 30 août 1777, portant règlement sur la durée des privilèges, Preamble and Articles 1 to 4, 6 et seq. The preamble sets out that ’a regulation restricting the duration of the exclusive rights of publishers to the period stipulated by the privilege […] would be to the advantage of the public, who may expect the cost of books to fall in consequence to a level determined by the means of the buyers’. About this, see Robert Dawson, The French Booktrade and the ’Permission Simple’ of 1777: Copyright and Public Domain (Oxford: The Voltaire Foundation, 1992), pp. 33 et seq.

89 See Sur l’état actuel de l’imprimerie. Lettres de M. Panckoucke à MM. Les Libraires et Imprimeurs de la Capitale, dans le Mercure de France, 6 March 1790, pp. 32 et seq.