J.F.F. Ganz's draft for a general ban on reprinting within the whole Empire, Mainz and Fulda (1790)

Source: Retrospektive Digitalisierung wissenschaftlicher Rezensionsorgane und Literaturzeitschriften des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts aus dem deutschen Sprachraum,

J.F.F. Ganz's draft for a general ban on reprinting within the whole Empire, Mainz and Fulda (1790), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

Back | Record | Images | Commentaries: [1]
Translation only | Transcription only | Show all | Bundled images as pdf

            Chapter 1 Page 2 of 11 total

406            XIV. A brief outline of the reasons

§. 2

      The harm which is caused by it affects not
just the owner who is robbed in broad daylight, as
it were, but, rather, its fatal consequences extend
to the German book trade, the whole of German litera-
ture and the whole German public.

      [How it harms] the book trade. Having been
frightened by reprinting from almost all directions,
no bookseller can longer dare to undertake the
publication of a work which is beneficial to the
community and has been composed with great effort.
He must therefore restrict himself to publications
which sell quickly and do not require any large
investment of capital. The prices must of necessity
be higher if one has to spread out one's expenses
and profits over 400 copies, rather than 800. It is
because of this that book prices are so high, and
that there are so many short works, pamphlets, and
frivolities in circulation. It is a head start of
barely a few months that the legitimate publisher
gains over the reprinter! The honest publisher
realises that the price of his publications is too
high, but it is self-defence which compels him to
set them this high; and if this state of disorder
persists, then he is in danger of never again being
able to undertake the publication of a work of the
intellect, of whatever kind it may be, because both
the book retailer and the public will be drawn to
the much cheaper prices of reprints. The bookseller
can no longer carry on buying expensive original
editions, since the majority of clients will
understandably be looking to buy cheap ones. The
reprinter thus swamps every region with the spoils
of his piracy, and those local booksellers who do
not wish to become receivers of stolen goods nor
accomplices of the reprinter, are driven into

[Col. 2]

      Literature. Works which are beneficial to the
community, laborious products of the intellect are
no longer able to find a publisher. The remuneration
for the effort and time expended by scholars on their
works ceases to be forthcoming. The public becomes
accustomed to merely entertaining, easily put
together works: but what there will no longer be is
encouragement through the approbation of discerning
readers for those writers who require several years
in order to give their works the highest possible
degree of perfection. Writing becomes monopolised by
those scholars who have already acquired a certain
reputation, as they no longer have to fear much
competition. A man of intelligence and enterprising
spirit is forced to write for the newspapers, that is,
to take the easiest path in order to prosper more
readily, to work quickly and superficially, to choose
topics which have no more value than that of their
novelty or peculiarity. And in this way scholars,
writers, and booksellers help in sounding the death
knell for the sciences because reprinting prevents
them from undertaking any projects of substance. The
iron age sets in before the golden age had even
reached maturity.

      The public. For a short while yet the legitimate
publisher will be able to survive alongside the
reprinter. As long as this is the case, the former
will have to levy a surcharge for the novelty of a
work. It is not his fault, however, but rather that
of the reprinter whose activities are tolerated if
the public is made to pay a twofold price for books.
      Neither is it his fault if the public becomes
accustomed to shallow literary works, and eventually
even takes a fancy to them. For he cannot take the
risk any longer of publishing intellectual products
of substance and works that are of benefit to the


No Transcription available.

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) (

With the exception of commentaries that are available under a CC-BY licence (compliant with UKRI policy) you may not publish individual documents or parts of the database 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