Basel Printers' Statute, Basel (1531)

Source: Staatsarchiv of Basel-Stadt. 'Erkanntnisbuch' StABS, Ratsbücher B 4, p. 96 recto and verso

Basel Printers' Statute, Basel (1531), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

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2 translated pages

Chapter 1 Page 1

[p. 96: main details of the decree]



      In the year 1531, on Saturday 28 October, both the old
and the new City Councils have adjudged - since there have
been tensions amongst the printers of the City of Basel, with
one often reprinting the books and works published by another,
thereby causing losses to the latter - that hereafter no
printer of this City of Basel shall reprint another's works
and books during the space of three years after these have
been published and printed; and likewise that no printer
shall print anything that could be harmful [or disadvantag-
eous] to the City of Basel; all this on pain of a fine of
one hundred Rhenish guilders, which will without fail be
levied, as a fair indemnification, from anyone who violates
this. Moreover, henceforth no printer, neither by himself
nor by the mediation of others, may try to persuade another
printer's employees, no matter whether these be editors,
typesetters, printers etc., to leave their employer and
come to work for him instead, the purpose of this regulation
being that no-one is to be hindered in the publication of
the works which he has undertaken; then, those who violate
or flout this, and against whom legal proceedings are
instituted, they shall not be allowed to get away scot-free
by the gentlemen of our Council, but will, rather, be
punished in accordance with the nature of their offence.

      And whereas there has been a private law-suit between
Valentin Curio and Andreas Cratander, since Andreas Cra-
tander has ventured to reprint Valentin's Lexicon Graecum

[left margin, added later, probably in the eighteenth
century, judging from the handwriting]

Concerning printers:
None shall reprint
the work of another;
and nor shall he
print any forbidden
work or anything
dishonourable or
shameful, on pain of
a fine of 100 Rhenish

Chapter 1 Page 2

[page 96 verso: details of Curio v Cratander]

which Valentin was the first to print, as a result of which
Valentin may have been impaired in the sale of his own edition;
it has been judged that, since both of them have already begun
printing and incurred expenses, this time they may both carry
on with the impression, but Andreas Cratander is not to be
allowed to print further any more sections, however large or
small, of his edition, until Valentin has finished printing, or
caused to be printed, his edition, with all the additions and
augmentations [#] - all this on pain of the penalty which
this Honourable Council will decide upon should he happen to
violate this etc.

# [Insertion in left margin:]

and henceforth he must never
print anything [relating to the
dictionary] without previously
informing the Honourable
Council and Valentin.

Translation by: Luis Sundkvist


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