# Primary Sources on Copyright - Record Viewer
Gans: On the right to perform published stage plays, Berlin (1832)

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Gans: On the right to perform published stage plays, Berlin (1832), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org

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            Chapter 1 Page 2 of 9 total

378            On the right to the performance

to give consideration to everything, and therefore also to give
injustice its due, that have until now left unsatisfied a need
which is felt on a daily basis and whose satisfaction no other
nation as intellectually active as ours would have requested in
vain for so long from its legislators. At least we Prussians
have nothing to reproach ourselves in this respect. We have
granted protection where it was demanded, we have refused to
tolerate theft anywhere, and our well-meant, albeit still
incomplete, laws have stood up resolutely to the principle of
      It is not surprising that people been unable to conceive of
such a thing as intellectual property, that jurists have been
reluctant to go beyond the Roman concept of property in a material
object. But in that case one ought to be consistent throughout
and annul all publishing contracts, since surely one cannot pretend
that a contract should be valid for a right of possession to which
everyone, in fact, is entitled, and which may just as well be
appropriated by any non-signatory to the contract! A most shrewd
justification for reprinting has been postulated by pointing to the
fact that one can do what one wishes with one's property, so that
therefore the owner of a copy [of a work] is entitled to have it
reprinted - as if ownership of a copy actually implies that one is
the owner of the general whole of which that copy is but a single
part, as if the printing of further copies did not go beyond
precisely this ownership of that one copy and was not something
quite different to such ownership, or as if it was even necessary
to be the owner of a copy in order to carry out a reprint. For what
if the reprinter had borrowed a copy in order to achieve his purpose?
Is it only then that his right to the reprinted copies can be
called into question, is it only then that reprinting is an injustice,
and must, therefore, the reprinter always take care to prove that
he really was the owner of the copy [used for the reprint]?


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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