Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900)
Commentary on Kehr: Apology of the Reprinting of Books (1799) Friedemann Kawohl
School of Finance & Law, Bournemouth University, UK
Please cite as:
Kawohl, F. (2008) ‘Commentary on Kehr: Apology of the Reprinting of Books (1799)', in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org
1. Full title
1. Full title
Ludwig Christian Kehr, Apology of the Reprinting of Books (Kreuznach, 1799)
The young Ludwig Christian Kehr (1775-1848) welcomed the French Revolution in a number of pamphlets. From 1797 he ran a commercial lending library in the Rhineland town of Kreuznach, and in 1799 he set up his own publishing house and bookshop. He published French translations and a series of pirate editions under the title Select Library of the Most Exquisite Writers of Germany. Kehr argued that it was unfair to brand reprinting with the stigma of piracy, since it helped in fact to relieve social injustice in the allocation of books: "Many well-off book-lovers buy books [...] but they do not in fact read them [...] Less well-to-do readers have to forgo any hope of acquiring good books, which may in fact be indispensable to them, simply because their prices are so excessive as to deter any potential buyers. [...] It is reprinting alone which can curb this baleful evil and counteract it." Kehr's arguments are typical for advocates of reprinting in the late eighteenth century. The commentary explains the market situation for German books at that time and refers in particular to the situation around 1800 in the French-occupied territories, where towns like Kreuznach were situated.
Books and articles [in alphabetical order]
Kehr, Ludwig Christian Selbstbiographie (Kreuznach: Kehr, 1834)
Rissel, Heribert, "Große Literatur aus einer kleinen Stadt: die Raubdrucke des Ludwig Christian Kehr in Kreuznach", Jahrbuch für westdeutsche Landesgeschichte 32 (2006): 321-344
 E.g. Nicolas Toussaint Le Moyne Des Essarts (1744-1810), Carrier, das blutdürstige Ungeheuer und seine Mitschurken. Greuelszenen aus dem französischen Revolutionskriege, aus gerichtlichen Akten beurkundet. (Kreuznach: Kehr, 1803).
 Auserlesene Bibliothek der vorzüglichsten Schriftsteller Teutschlands. It included works by popular authors such as Schiller, Kant, Voß, Heinse, Lafontaine and others.