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1568 __ Muret Affair - droit d’auteur
Comment : The Moulins ordinance of 1566, first piece of legislation to impose to librarians and editors the request of a printing patent, did not make any mention of authors. Despite this regime which privileged editors on authors, some of the latter succeeded in obtaining privileges for their works. During the Muret Affair, in 1568, the lawyer Marion pleaded for a complete and unrestricted right of property of the author on his work, and intellectual property thus entered the French jurisprudence.Based on the "right of the author" (droit d'auteur) instead of on "copyright", its philosophy and terminology are different from those used in copyright law in common law jurisdictions. It has been very influential in the development of copyright laws in other civil law jurisdictions, and in the development of international copyright law such as the Berne Convention. French copyright law is defined in the Code de la propriété intellectuelle, which implements European copyright law (directives). Unless otherwise stated, references to individual articles are to the Code de la propriété intellectuelle. Two distinct sets of rights are defined: 1) Proprietary rights (droits patrimoniaux), 2) Moral rights (droits moraux). The concept of "right of the author", which differs from Anglo-American copyright, finds its roots in the practice of printing patents and royal privileges, which first appeared in the 16th century and became common in the 17th century. Rather than the author, the privilege concerned the publication of his works. The first privilege granted in France was given by Henri II in 1551 to Guillaume Morlay, his luth player. Through this system of royal privileges, the King granted monopolies to specific editors, and implemented a system of censorship. Privileges were then very short (3 to 10 years), after which the work entered the public domain. In the same time, the practice of percentage remuneration given to authors became common during the 17th century. Authors of dramatic plays, such as Corneille, started to defend their rights, as when a play was published, any troop could play it without paying anything to its creator. The King thus arbitrated between the rival interests of editors and creators, giving his preference to the former. (Compiled from various sources)
French comment : En 1568, une première affaire est portée devant la justice, l’affaire dite « Muret » au cours de laquelle fut affirmé le droit d’auteur. Elle fut l’occasion pour l’avocat Marion de développer la thèse que « l’auteur d’un livre en est du tout maître et comme tel peut en disposer librement, même le posséder toujours sous sa main privée ainsi qu’un esclave ». Et il ajoutait « La raison en est que les hommes, les uns envers les autres, par un commun instinct, reconnaissent tant chacun d’eux en son particulier, être seigneur de ce qu’il fait, invente et compose. » L’acte de publication était vu comme une convention entre l’écrivain et le public, le premier donnant au second accès à son oeuvre à la condition que le second lui reconnaisse la pleine possession de sa création. En donnant raison à Marion, le Parlement fit entrer la propriété littéraire dans la jurisprudence. (Anne Latournerie)
Source : Latournerie, Anne (2001), “Petite histoire des batailles du droit d’auteur”, Multitudes n°5, May 2001.
Urls : http://multitudes.samizdat.net/spip.php?article168 (last visited ) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_copyright_law (last visited )

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