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1505 __ A case of theft of intellectual property
Comment : The theft of intellectual property was lamented by great authors down the centuries, from Plato (who was furious that his dialogues were being pirated in Sicily) to Martin Luther (whose printer in 1525 was able to publish an unfinished draft of the Postillae which had been removed from Luther’s workroom). [...] “Copyright” is increasingly becoming an international word. In French le copyright is seen more and more frequently, at the expense of “les droits d’auteur”; in German das Copyright is almost as current as “das Urheberrecht”; in Portuguese “os direitos de autor” is regularly qualified by (copyright) in brackets; and on a longer timescale one suspects that “los derechos de autor” in Spanish and “i diritti d’autore” in Italian will also eventually succumb to the word which is recognised almost everywhere as a little c in a circle. There is a profound irony in this, for although the English word increasingly predominates, the history of copyright over the past three centuries is a history of movement away from the Anglo-American concept of the property right, which is the right to make copies, and towards the more philosophical French notion of droits d’auteurs (authors’ rights, based upon intellectual responsibility for a creative work). In the English pre-history of copyright, ownership of property was paramount. In the Elizabethan theatre, authors had almost no rights: the theatre-owner came first, the actor second, and the playwright a poor third. When the great actor Ned Alleyn moved from the Lord Admiral’s Company to Lord Strange’s Men in the 1590s, he was prevented from taking his celebrated Tamburlaine with him not by Marlowe (who had sold the play and was therefore uninvolved) but by the theatre company who owned Tamburlaine as their property. (David Sutton - International Perspectives on Archival Copyright, 2004)
French comment : Luther (1483-1546) proteste pour réclamer la protection de ses droits, en 1525, en accusant les imprimeurs de piller et voler publiquement : « J’ai écrit les Postillae depuis le jour des rois jusqu’à Pâques, et voilà que le compositeur qui s’engraisse de mes sueurs vole mon manuscrit avant que j’aie fini et va le faire imprimer ailleurs pour ruiner ma dépense et mon travail ».
Source : Laboulaye, E. and Guiffrey, G. (1859), “La propriété littéraire au XVIIe siècle”, Librairie de L. Hachette, Paris, 1859, p. VII-VIII.
Source : Viala, Alain (1985), “Naissance de l’écrivain”, Les éditions de Minuit, Paris, p. 96.
Source : Latournerie, Anne (2001), “Petite histoire des batailles du droit d’auteur”, Multitudes n°5, May 2001.
Source : Sutton, David (2004), “International Perspectives on Archival Copyright“, 15th International Congress on Archives.
Urls : http://multitudes.samizdat.net/spip.php?article168 (last visited ) http://www.wien2004.ica.org/imagesUpload/pres_254_SUTTON_C-USA%20ILL%2001.pdf?PHPSESSID=4fd5aa626c09bcdc01c5e4bdb09429a6 (last visited )

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