The Author's Due: Printing and the Prehistory of Copyright

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University of Chicago Press, Feb 15, 2010 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 360 pages
The Author's Due offers an institutional and cultural history of books, the book trade, and the bibliographic ego. Joseph Loewenstein traces the emergence of possessive authorship from the establishment of a printing industry in England to the passage of the 1710 Statute of Anne, which provided the legal underpinnings for modern copyright. Along the way he demonstrates that the culture of books, including the idea of the author, is intimately tied to the practical trade of publishing those books.

As Loewenstein shows, copyright is a form of monopoly that developed alongside a range of related protections such as commercial trusts, manufacturing patents, and censorship, and cannot be understood apart from them. The regulation of the press pitted competing interests and rival monopolistic structures against one another—guildmembers and nonprofessionals, printers and booksellers, authors and publishers. These struggles, in turn, crucially shaped the literary and intellectual practices of early modern authors, as well as early capitalist economic organization.

With its probing look at the origins of modern copyright, The Author's Due will prove to be a watershed for historians, literary critics, and legal scholars alike.

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Contents

II From Protectionism to Property
89
III The Laughable Term
247
Notes
263
Index
337
Copyright

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Page 176 - I deny not, but that it is of greatest concernment in the Church and Commonwealth, to have a vigilant eye how books demean themselves as well as men; and thereafter to confine, imprison, and do sharpest justice on them as malefactors.
Page 177 - For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are ; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.
Page 177 - And yet on the other hand, unless wariness be used, as good almost kill a man as kill a good book: who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God's image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were, in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the earth; but a good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.
Page 121 - Sleep'st by the fable of Bellerus old, Where the great vision of the guarded mount Looks toward Namancos and Bayona's hold; Look homeward, Angel, now, and melt with ruth, And, O ye dolphins, waft the hapless youth.
Page 141 - Cressida was also written by a Lombard author, but much amplified by our English translator, as well as beautified; the genius of our countrymen in general being rather to improve an invention than to invent themselves, as is evident not only in our poetry, but in many of our manufactures.
Page 181 - Truth and understanding are not such wares as to be monopolized and traded in by tickets, and statutes, and standards. We must not think to make a staple commodity of all the knowledge in the land, to mark and license it like our broadcloth and our woolpacks.
Page 177 - We should be wary therefore what persecution we raise against the living labours of public men, how we spill that seasoned life of man preserved and stored up in books ; since we see a kind of homicide may be thus committed, sometimes a martyrdom...
Page 191 - ... pretence of the poor in their company not to be defrauded, and the just retaining of each man his several copy...
Page 284 - No marginal notes at all to be affixed, but only for the explanation of the Hebrew or Greek words which cannot, without some circumlocution, so briefly and fitly be expressed in the text.

About the author (2010)

Joseph Loewenstein is a professor of English at Washington University. He is the author of Jonson and Possessive Authorship and Responsive Readings: Versions of Echo in Pastoral, Epic, and the Jonsonian Masque.

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