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Copyright statement of Johann Strauss for Austria and Prussia (1835)

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Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900)

Identifier: d_1835


Copyright statement of Johann Strauss for Austria and Prussia, Vienna (1835)

Friedemann Kawohl

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


1. Full title

2. Abstract

3. Haslinger's and Strauss's manifold strategy to secure copyrights in Prussia and other German markets

4. References


1. Full title

Declaration of the Viennese composer Johann Strauss concerning transfer of copyright to the Viennese publisher Tobias Haslinger, and declaration of Haslinger concerning the transfer of Prussian copyright to the Berlin publisher Traugott Trautwein.


2. Abstract

The score of the piano version of the Heimat-Klänge waltz, op. 84, by Johann Strauss ‘the elder' (1804-1849), was published in 1836 by Tobias Haslinger (1787-1842), one of the most important music publishers in 1820s and 1830s Vienna. The score came in 6 sheets with 12 pages and included a "declaration" of the copyright transfer from author to publisher.


The declaration signed by Strauss and Haslinger was authenticated with seven signatures from Austrian officials and from a clerk of the Prussian Embassy in Vienna. Haslinger thus hoped to secure his copyright on the Prussian market after several of his earlier Strauss editions had been pirated in Berlin and an application for a general privilege for Strauss's works had been declined. In addition to this, Haslinger had the work registered with the privately managed music copyright register in Leipzig.


Haslinger's striving to secure his copyright by a multiple strategy is a typical reaction to the absence of uniform copyright laws within the states that made up the German Confederation.


3. Haslinger's and Strauss's manifold strategy to secure copyrights in Prussia and other German markets

The music print of the Heimat-Klänge waltz was not published before 1836,[1] about a year after the signatures that are documented on the declaration (15, 17, 19 January, 10 February 1835).


For this edition of the Heimat-Klänge waltz Haslinger chose a two-tiered strategy to secure his copyright on the German market. He made public the official approval of the copyright transfer received from the Prussian Embassy in Vienna and the registration of his work with the privately managed music copyright register in Leipzig.


After Prussia, in 1827, had signed bilateral treaties with several German states (d_1827a), though not with Austria, a double standard was applied for mutual copyright protection within the German Confederation. The signatory states of 1827 had acknowledged mutual protection, whereas Austria and some smaller states had abstained. The federal directive of 1832 (See d_1837b) had then agreed on national treatment within the whole Confederation. After its implementation in Prussian law on 12 February 1833, national treatment for Austrian publishers and authors was acknowledged, but only for works published after that date.[2]


Strauss the elder's works had been popular in Berlin even before the successful tour of the Strauss orchestra in the summer of 1834. But on 19 July 1834, Haslinger lodged a request with the Prussian Embassy in Vienna, claiming that pirate editions of Strauss's works had been offered for sale by the Berlin music publishers G. Eduard Müller and Johann Joachim Rieffenstahl. Haslinger's complaints related to seventeen works, of which fourteen were original compositions (ops. 31, 45, 49, 50, 56, 58, 59, 60, 61, 63, 65, 66, 71, 78) and three were arrangements (of ops. 56, 68 and 70).


After Haslinger's complaint was rejected, Strauss himself applied for a general privilege for all his works against reprinting in Prussia. Strauss's petition of 28 November 1834 was addressed to the Prussian Minister of the Interior and Police, Gustav von Rochow (1792-1847), and signed in Leipzig, where Strauss and his orchestra stayed on their way home after their Berlin performances.[3] On 19 December 1834, the Prussian Ministry of the Interior rejected Strauss' application, on the grounds that such a privilege was "neither permissible nor necessary" (weder zulässig noch erforderlich), since the German Confederation had agreed on the directive of 1832 (see the commentary for d_1837b).


Haslingers's and Strauss's complaints did, however, lead to investigations being opened against Müller and Rieffenstahl and to a lawsuit before the Berlin Municipal Court, which was eventually abandoned on 22 February 1837, just a month before the Prussian Copyright Act of 1837 was promulgated (d_1837).


Thus, the publication of Haslinger's and Strauss's ‘declaration' on the last page of the Heimat-Klänge score was not a prerequisite for copyright protection in Prussia. Haslinger, however, may have been hoping that an official confirmation by Carl Weymann, an official at the Prussian Embassy in Vienna, would deter potential reprinters who were not acquainted with the latest legislation developments both in Prussia and in the smaller German states that were following Prussia in commercial and international affairs.


Apart from the statutory protection, Haslinger indicated on the title page of his score that the waltz was the "property of the publisher" and that it had been "registered at the Archive of the Music Publishers against Reprinting" (eingetragen in das Archiv der Musikalienhändler gegen Nachdruck). This Leipzig register[4] was maintained by the Music Publishers' Association against Reprinting, which had been set up in 1829 (d_1829) and 1830 (d_1830) by music publishers from various German states. Even though a music publisher's private agreement with a composer was not enforceable by law, Haslinger naturally expected that registration would oblige his fellow signatories at the Association to refrain from reprinting. By referring to his representatives, Hermann & Langbein in Leipzig, and Trautwein in Berlin, both of which were established music publishing houses, Haslinger could be even more confident that they would help to secure his copyright within their home markets, Prussia and Saxony respectively.


4. References

F. Kawohl, Urheberrecht der Musik in Preußen (Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 2001)

E. Wadle, "Preußische Privilegien für Werke der Musik", in Geistiges Eigentum II (Munich: Beck 2003), 185-205

[1]    Peter Kemp, Article "Johann Strauss", in New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (Oxford U.P., 2001).

[2]    Elmar Wadle, "Preußische Privilegien für Werke der Musik", in Geistiges Eigentum II  (Munich: Beck, 2003) 185-205.

[3]    A transcribed version of Strauss's letter is given in Wadle, 205.

[4]    For more details, see Friedemann Kawohl, Urheberrecht der Musik in Preußen (Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 2001).

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