Code de la Librairie, Paris (1744)

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Code de la Librairie, Paris (1744), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

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Record-ID: f_1723

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Booksellers' and Printers' Code, or Report on the regulations decreed by the King's Council on 28 February 1723, and implemented for the whole Kingdom by the King's Council on 24 March 1744

Full title original language:

The ruling of the King's Council of State of 28 February 1723 - more commonly referred to as the 'Code de la Librairie' - is without doubt one of the most well-known documents in the history of the book trade and printing in France. First of all, it was the last general example of a succession of legislative texts on the matter before the decrees of 30 August 1777. Those responsible for the drafting of the ruling were clearly determined at any rate to carry out their task fully, and even to introduce some vital reforms, following the general provisions of 1686, to enable a better regulation of the book market and the guild organisation on the basis of the privilege and permissions system. The most famous edition of the 'Code', that by Saugrain, which is the one included in our digital archive, expresses this intention already in the title and in the exhaustive recapitulating discussions which follow after each one of the 123 articles of the ruling. Saugrain's edition received the approval and privilege of the King in 1744, the year when the ruling came into force across the whole territory of France (previously it had applied to Paris only). It was because of this extension to cover the whole kingdom that in 1779 the assistant public prosecutor Séguier could still argue that this ruling 'can be regarded as the complete code of the book trade'. The elaboration, however, of this important piece of eighteenth-century legislation remains quite complicated to analyse, but it does seem that, as was the case in 1701, lobbying by the Parisian Guild played a significant role. This supposition seems all the more likely, given that the status quo with regard to the duration of privileges, both in terms of the actual provisions of the 'Code' and in their application, was to remain in place for several decades still after 1723.

1 Commentary:


Related documents in this database:

Author: N/A

Publisher: Claude Saugrain

Year: 1744

Location: Paris

Language: French

Source: N/A

Persons referred to:
Louis XV

Places referred to:

Cases referred to:

Institutions referred to:
Château du Louvre
King's Council of State (France)

Code de la Librairie 1723

duration, prolongation of privileges
guild regulation
interest groups
licensing, Approbation
privileges, printing
public domain

Responsible editor: Frédéric Rideau

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