Aldus Manutius's Warning against the Printers of Lyon, Venice (1503)

Source: Scanned from the manuscript held in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris: BN, Ms. Gr. 3064, c. 85.

Aldus Manutius's Warning against the Printers of Lyon, Venice (1503), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

Back | Record | Images | Commentaries: [1]
Record-ID: i_1503

Permanent link:

Full title:
Aldus Manutius's Warning against the Printers of Lyon

Full title original language:

This is a manifesto issued by Aldus Manutius to warn readers against the printers of Lyon who had been counterfeiting his editions of classic Greek and Roman authors. It is part of a series of complaints which Aldus submitted in Venice and Rome to have his works protected against piracy. The commentary describes the context in which Aldus took the decision to publish his manifesto. It argues that with the emergence of a book market, the problem of counterfeit and plagiarism became increasingly widespread but was not always viewed as disgraceful. Neither was there any established mechanism for the prosecution of offenders. The commentary investigates the concepts of originality and plagiarism in the context of the culture of copying and sharing texts, carried on from the manuscript age, and concludes that by trying to judge the cases of plagiarism during the Renaissance by our modern standards, we risk oversimplification, anachronism, and insensitivity to changes in the 'cultural meaning' of these concepts.

1 Commentary:

  • Shaw, D. J., 'The Lyons counterfeit of Aldus's Italic type: A new chronology', in 'The Italian book 1465-1800: Studies presented to Denis E. Rhodes', ed. by D. V. Reidy (London, 1993), 117-133

  • Renouard, Antoine-Auguste, 'Annales de l'Imprimerie des Alde, ou histoire des trois Manuce et de leurs editions', 2 vols (Paris: Renouard, 1803)

  • Lowry, Martin, 'The world of Aldus Manutius: business and scholarship in Renaissance Venice' (Oxford: Blackwell, 1979)

  • Didot, Ambroise-Firmin, 'Alde Manuce et l'Hellenisme a Venise' (Paris: Didot, 1875)

Related documents in this database:
1525: Luther's 'Admonition to the Printers'
1545: Luther's 'Warning to the Printers'
1469: Johannes of Speyer's Printing Monopoly
1502: Aldus Manutius's Petition against Counterfeiters
1517: Venetian Decree on Press Affairs
1545: Venetian Decree on Author-Printer Relations

Author: Aldus Manutius

Publisher: Aldus Manutius

Year: 1503

Location: Venice

Language: Latin

Source: Scanned from the manuscript held in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris: BN, Ms. Gr. 3064, c. 85.

Persons referred to:
Catullus, Gaius Valerius
Juvenal, Decimus Junius Juvenalis
Manutius, Aldus
Martial, Marcus Valerius Martialis
Propertius, Sextus
Tibullus, Albius

Places referred to:

Cases referred to:

Institutions referred to:
Aldine Press


book trade
classics, Greek and Latin
privileges, Papal
privileges, Venetian

Responsible editor: Joanna Kostylo

Copyright History resource developed in partnership with:

Our Partners

Copyright statement

You may copy and distribute the translations and commentaries in this resource, or parts of such translations and commentaries, in any medium, for non-commercial purposes as long as the authorship of the commentaries and translations is acknowledged, and you indicate the source as Bently & Kretschmer (eds), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900) (

You may not publish these documents for any commercial purposes, including charging a fee for providing access to these documents via a network. This licence does not affect your statutory rights of fair dealing.

Although the original documents in this database are in the public domain, we are unable to grant you the right to reproduce or duplicate some of these documents in so far as the images or scans are protected by copyright or we have only been able to reproduce them here by giving contractual undertakings. For the status of any particular images, please consult the information relating to copyright in the bibliographic records.

Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900) is co-published by Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge, 10 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DZ, UK and CREATe, School of Law, University of Glasgow, 10 The Square, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK