Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900)
Annotated Publishers' Petition to the Congress of Vienna, (1815)
School of Finance & Law, Bournemouth University, UK
Please cite as:
Kawohl, F. (2008) ‘Commentary on the Annotated Publishers' Petition to the Congress of Vienna (1815)', in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org
1. Full title
1. Full title
Publishers' petition to the Congress of Vienna (1814-15), presented here in an annotated version reflecting the point of view of the reprinting publishers and entitled Crisis of the German Book Trade Caused by German Publishers. It was actually an annotated reprint of the Memorandum on the reprinting of books, including a petition for a German state law against this. Submitted with the greatest respect to the illustrious envoys of the German States at the Congress of Vienna in the name of the German book publishers (Leipzig: Paul Gotthelf Kummer, 1814)
In Article 18d of the constitution for the German Confederation, the German Federal Act, signed in Vienna on 8 June 1815, the member states declared that "the Federal Assembly will work at the drawing up of uniform provisions on the freedom of the press and the protection of the rights of authors and publishers against reprinting" (see the commentary for d_1837b). The declaration was supported by a petition of six publishers, among them the Stuttgart-based Johann Friedrich Cotta, who like the publisher of the petition, J.J. Mäcken (a notorious reprinter, based in Reutlingen), was a Württemberg subject.
Our document is a reprint of this petition, enlarged with anonymously added footnotes which seek to unveil the lobbying activity as motivated by pure greed and avarice. Mäcken had applied for a license from the Württemberg censorship authority on 22 December 1814 and was permitted to publish the petition on the condition that he left out an offensive remark about Cotta.
Since the German Federal Act did eventually include a declaration about the need to regulate reprinting, Cotta and his rivals all pinned their hopes on the Federal Assembly. However, no major step was taken by the latter until the mid-1830s. In Württemberg, however, reprinting of books from other states continued to be an important business until the promulgation of the Württemberg Copyright Act in 1838.
Books and articles [in alphabetical order]
[Anonymous], Die Krisis des deutschen Buchhandels (Reutlingen: Gryphius, 1971) = Reprint edition of the original published by J.J. Mäcken (Reutlingen, 1815)
Gergen, T., Die Nachdruckprivilegienpraxis Württembergs im 19. Jahrhundert und ihre Bedeutung für das Urheberrecht im Deutschen Bund (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2007)
Widmann, H., "Aus der Geschichte des Reutlinger Druck- und Verlagswesens", in J.U. Hebsaker (ed.), Rückblick für die Zukunft. Berichte über Bücher, Buchhändler und Verleger (Reutlingen: Ensslin & Laiblin 1968), 27-107
 A facsimile of the application was published by Hans Widmann, "Aus der Geschichte des Reutlinger Druck- und Verlagswesens", in J.U. Hebsaker (ed.), Rückblick für die Zukunft. Berichte über Bücher, Buchhändler und Verleger (Reutlingen: Ensslin & Laiblin 1968), 27-107 (84).
 The expert opinion on Mäcken's application is by and large quoted in Hans Widmann‘s afterword to the reprint edition Die Krisis des deutschen Buchhandels (Reutlingen: Gryphius, 1971). Cotta had filed a complaint against Mäcken in 1813 - see details in Thomas Gergen, Die Nachdruckprivilegienpraxis Württembergs im 19. Jahrhundert und ihre Bedeutung für das Urheberrecht im Deutschen Bund (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2007), 224f.