Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900)

Identifier: d_1608


Commentary on the 'Books Constitution' of Emperor Rudolf II

Friedemann Kawohl

Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management, Bournemouth University, UK


Please cite as:
Kawohl, F. (2008) ‘Commentary on the Books Constitution of Emperor Rudolf II (1608)', in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

1. Full title

2. Abstract

3. References


1. Full title

The 'Books Constitution' of Emperor Rudolf II


2. Abstract

The Imperial Mandate of 1608 contains provisions intended to strengthen the Imperial Books Commission's regulation of the book trade at the Frankfurt fair.


In the preceding years a number of books had been published with unclear references to privileges, many of which turned out not to have been granted or formally requested and regularly paid for. In order to stop this abuse of privilege references, the 1608 mandate ordered that the full text of the privilege had to printed at the beginning of each privileged book. Furthermore, it was stipulated that book catalogues hat to be delivered before the stalls were set up at the Frankfurt fair, and the publishers of privileged books were reminded of their obligation to deliver statutory copies.


Similar versions of the 1608 mandate were repeated in 1662 and 1685. The version of 1662, issued by Leopold I (1640-1705), was addressed to "all local [here referring to Frankfurt rather than to the whole Empire] and foreign publishers" ("sämmtliche einheimische und fremde Buchhändler") and in a somewhat obscure wording banned the reprinting of both "privileged books and those of other authors" ("privilegierte Bücher und solche anderer Autoren").[1]

Imperial privileges provided a satisfactory provision for books handled at the Frankfurt fair. The Imperial mandates, however, were not understood as providing a reprinting ban that covered unprivileged books as well, and there is no evidence that any such claims were ever based on the general ban on reprints notionally proclaimed in the 1662 version of this Imperial mandate.[2]


3. References

Books and articles [in alphabetical order]


Gieseke, Ludwig. Vom Privileg zum Urheberrecht: Die Entwicklung des Urheberrechts in Deutschland bis 1845 (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 1995)


Kapp, Friedrich. Geschichte des Deutschen Buchhandels, vol. 1 (Leipzig: Verlag des Börsenvereins der Deutschen Buchhändler, 1886)


[1] Friedrich Kapp, Geschichte des Deutschen Buchhandels, vol. 1 (Leipzig: Verlag des Börsenvereins der Deutschen Buchhäöndler, 1886), 755.

[2] Ludwig Gieseke, Vom Privileg zum Urheberrecht: Die Entwicklung des Ureheberrechts in Deutschland bis 1845 (Baden-Baden: Nomos 1995).