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,

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            Chapter 1 Page 4 of 9 total

380            On the right to the performance

namely, that, until a play has been published, the
theatres must obtain from the author permission to
stage it. It would be regarded as theft if the
director of a theatre, without asking the author or
coming to an agreement with him about the price of the
manuscript, were to allow himself to stage such a work.
However, as soon as a play has been published, the view
is that the author has given his consent for its
performance and, what is more, without this requiring any
further contract. Neither is it necessary, according to
this view, to offer the author any kind of remuneration,
since having purchased a copy of a play surely gives a right
to undertake its production on the stage.
      This attitude, which has become the standard practice
across all Germany, has until now hardly met with any juristic
objection - either because the matter seemed too insignificant,
or because, from the point of view of the earlier theories of
reprinting, such a procedure was taken to be the natural
consequence of the circumstances in such cases. Despite this,
however, this attitude is completely mistaken, and, since
common usage has in effect been sanctioning an injustice, it is
the task of the legislation to eradicate this wrong and to
put justice in its stead.
      He who has handed over a play for publication will have
to concede the buyer of a copy all the rights which
an individual is entitled to exercise with regard to a single
object. The buyer can destroy, abandon, sell, or use the book
himself. As part of this utilization, he may also allow
others to use it [in such ways]. But he is not allowed to do
anything which would turn this utilization into a different,
more general, kind of manifestation that has not been
permitted by the author, who is alone entitled to it, and as
a result of which we would not be dealing with the private
utilisation of the object any more, but rather the ownership
of this object is merely used as the opportunity to carry out
something which has nothing whatsoever to do with this
ownership. What was said above with regard to reprinting is
also applicable here. Just as little as the ownership of


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