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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 5 of 9 total

381            of published stage plays

a copy can justify reprinting, since one doesn't even
have to be the owner of such a copy to undertake a reprint,
so a stage performance, that is, a general manifestation which
amounts to the same as reprinting, cannot either be justified by
such ownership.
      In its consequences a stage performance can certainly be
compared to reprinting. For money one is acquainting a large
mass of people - namely, a far greater number than those who
tend to buy and read a play - with the author's work; one is
making a profit from the latter's intellectual efforts, since
the work done by the actors cannot be taken into account
differently to, or to a greater extent than, the printing costs
which are after all also borne by the reprinter. Through its
performance a play makes its appearance before an audience:
moreover, it is handed over to the public in a rather different
and more intensive way than is the case with mere printing. For
the printed work does not have an effect on gatherings of people -
it does so solely on individuals, which means that only gradually
can it produce the impression that a stage performance is capable
of provoking in one instant. It is for this reason that
in those very states in which there has long since been freedom of
the press there is still a censorship of theatre plays; and it is
only after the most recent political revolution in France* that
the latter preventive measure too has been abolished there. However,
quite recently the need was felt to propose a theatre law in France
which is not free of preventive and prohibitive stipulations.**
      However, if a stage performance is to be regarded as equivalent,
if not more, to reprinting, then it should also be entirely treated
as such. However, one mustn't forget that another aspect comes into
play here, and that the performance of a stage work against the will
and without the permission of its author exposes him to a risk which
he may not have wanted to incur at all. If a play is reprinted,
one can at least not say that the manner of the manifestation


* The July Revolution of 1830

** Theatre censorship in France was to be fully re-introduced with the
September Laws of 1835


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