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Venetian Decree on Privileges for New Books and Reprints, Venice (1603)

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Venetian Decree on Privileges for New Books and Reprints, Venice (1603), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org

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            Chapter 1 Page 2 of 6 total

1603. On 11th May

                        Amongst the various Arts which have most increased
                        the splendour of this City, that of Printing has always
                        occupied the principal place, because thanks to the great
                        accuracy and diligence that have been exercised for such
                        a long time now by those who have mastered this Art,
                        it has proliferated with great honour to the public and
                        most remarkable profit to all who are employed and
occupied in this work. At present, however, this Art - because of the drawing away
which is taking place so copiously of its resources and instruments, as these are
carried off to foreign States, followed by a continuous emigration of master
printers and workers - is destroying itself on a large scale, also due to the little
care and avarice of the Booksellers, who do not pay attention any longer to the
need for Works to succeed by being printed well with good type and fine paper,
and (something that is very important) due to a lack of sufficient Proof-readers,
so that works come out full of errors; and it has therefore forfeited that reputation
which in the past guaranteed a huge market for Venetian books - wherefore we
must not delay any more in making the necessary provisions and enacting those
regulations which are most suitable for checking the aforesaid disorders.
      Be it decided that whilst those judgments and ordinances which have so far
been enacted with regard to Printing, and which are not contrary to the present,
shall remain in force, in future all that is contained in the following Statutes is to
be observed inviolably.
      That all registered Printers or Booksellers who would like to print or cause
to be printed any work that has already been printed, are obliged to first of all have
the copy which they intend to use examined, and to assiduously correct all the faults
which it may happen to contain.
      They shall be obliged each time to have the lead forme [the page image or
typeset text] carefully read out by the Compositors, with either the Master Printers
or some other qualified persons listening, so that the first correction can be made
on the forme itself on that occasion, and then, once the sheet has been printed off
the press, to have that examined by the Proof-reader, who must correct any errors
which he finds in this sheet, and then the second sheet is to be run off, to ensure
that they have been fixed and removed.


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