Commentary on:
French Decree of 30 August 1777, on the duration of privileges (1777)

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Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900)

Identifier: f_1777a


Commentary on the French Decree of 30 August 1777

Frédéric Rideau

Faculty of Law, University of Poitiers, France


Please cite as:

Rideau, F. (2010) ‘Commentary on the French Decree of 30 August 1777', in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,


1. Full title

2. Abstract

3. References


1. Full title

Decree of the King's Council of State, containing regulations on the duration of book trade privileges. 30 August 1777


2. Abstract

Like the 1774 Donaldson v. Beckett case in Great Britain, the French royal provisions of 30 August 1777, regarding the duration of exclusive privileges, constituted a fundamental date in the history of literary property. Indeed, in this last important set of regulations of the book trade under the Ancien Régime, the Crown seemed, although it has been interpreted in different ways, to recognize to authors a property right emanating from their particular labour, something in fact that the Parisian booksellers and their lawyers had been asserting from the 1720s onwards. At the same time, however, while securing absolutely this right by privilege, the King's administration restricted its exercise when a transfer of the work and this new protection occurred to the profit of a new beneficiary, in particular a bookseller. Although it also implied to reconsider the nature of contractual relations between authors and members of the book trade, the logic of this new legislation was highly criticized, since, moreover, it bore a major impact on literary monopolies, much as in England at around the same time.




3. References

full commentary in preparation

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