Ottaviano Petrucci's Music Patent, Venice (1498)

Source: scanned from the manuscript held in the Venetian State Archives: ASV, NC, reg. 14, fol. 170r.

Ottaviano Petrucci's Music Patent, Venice (1498), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

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Full title:
Ottaviano Petrucci's Patent for Printing Polyphonic Music for Voices, Organ, and Lute

Full title original language:

Ottaviano Petrucci's twenty-year patent for the double-impression technique of printing polyphonic music for voices, organ, and lute by using moveable types is the first known record of a privilege granted for music printing. It is also one of the early records of patents for invention and improvement in the mechanism of printing, showing that there was no legal distinction between books and printed music or other works of art produced through the press. The commentary argues that while Petrucci was not the first to print music, his claim to a pioneering role in the history of printing is supported by the fact that he was the first to print polyphonic music on a large scale and establish a market for printed music as a distinct niche of the printing and publishing trade. The commentary describes sixteenth-century relations between composers, performers, and publishers in the context of a developing printed music market and discusses contemporary attitudes towards the legal protection of music.

1 Commentary:

  • Vernarecci, Augusto, 'Ottaviano de' Petrucci da Fossombrone: inventore dei tipi mobili metallici fusi della musica nel secolo XV' (Bologna: Forni editore, 1971)

  • Schmid, Anton, 'Ottaviano dei Petrucci da Fossombrone, der erste Erfinder des Musiknotendruckes mit beweglichen Metalltypen, und seine Nachfolger im sechzehnten Jahrhunderte' (Amsterdam: Gruüner, 1968)

  • Reese Gustave, 'The First Printed Collection of Part-Music: (The Odhecaton)', 'The Musical Quarterly' 20, nr 1 (Jan., 1934): 39-76

  • Bernstein, Jane A., 'Financial Arrangements and the Role of Printer and Composer in Sixteenth-Century Italian Music Printing', 'Acta Musicologica' 63, nr 1 (1991): 39-56

Related documents in this database:
1531: Francis I's letter patent to Pierre Attaignant
1552: General privilege granted to Adrien Le Roy and Robert Ballard
1469: Johannes of Speyer's Printing Monopoly
1474: Venetian Statute on Industrial Brevets
1498: Ottaviano Petrucci's Music Patent
1498: Ottaviano Petrucci's Music Patent
1498: Ottaviano Petrucci's Music Patent
1515: Ariosto's Printing Privilege

Author: N/A

Publisher: N/A

Year: 1498

Location: Venice

Language: Italian

Source: scanned from the manuscript held in the Venetian State Archives: ASV, NC, reg. 14, fol. 170r.

Persons referred to:
Barbarigo, Agostino
Petrucci, Ottaviano

Places referred to:
Fossombrone, Marche region of Italy

Cases referred to:

Institutions referred to:


Renaissance, the
author/publisher relations
authors, self-publishing
music publishing
music, protected subject matter
printing, history of
privileges, Venetian
public performance

Responsible editor: Joanna Kostylo

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