Lauritz Benedicht's Printing Monopoly, Copenhagen (1565)

Source: Danske Kancelli: Registre over alle Lande nr. 5-10 (1546-1571) B19D: 8 1561 – 1566. Location: The Danish National Archives.

Lauritz Benedicht's Printing Monopoly, Copenhagen (1565), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

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Chapter 1 Page 1

Lauritz Benedict has been granted freedom in his printing business as follows


We Frederick II, wish to make all aware with this missive that our beloved Lauritz Benedicht, citizen and printer in our merchant city of Copenhagen, has humbly offered to establish a full-fledged printing house so that books in Danish, and German, and Latin may be printed here, and elsewhere, without punishment. For the purpose that we and our successors as kings of the kingdoms of Denmark may be promoted and kept in good power, and also that Lauritz Benedicht may be reimbursed for the money he spends, so that he may be able to maintain his [printing] house, We have

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by special grace and favour [allowed], and now also by this open letter confirm, that Lauritz Benedicht and no other person may freely and unhindered print all books in Latin, Danish and German that shall be printed and published in these realms. He shall not, however, publish any book, large or small, in Latin, Danish, or German, poetry or prose, satire or any other text, before the whole university, or the largest group that best understands the subject, has considered and approved it; and if it [the text] is in praise of God, for the preservation of the faith, and for the good of the kingdom, it shall be approved. If any man should try to compel him to print anything, saying that he would try it [= get approval], he shall not be allowed to do so without the prior consent of the University; he shall not take the liberty of printing anything without the prior consent of the University. And whatever copies he may have printed, large or small, no person shall be allowed to reprint them within these realms, and if a person should reprint any of the books he has previously printed, they shall not be imported, sold, or distributed in any way within these realms, while, or from the time when, the same books are available for sale

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in Lauritz Benedicht's printing house. If any person publishes books to be printed, he shall send them in good time to the aforesaid Lauritz Benedicht, so that he shall not be delayed in supplying himself with paper and other materials which he may need. And when the aforementioned Lauritz Benedicht prints his words, he must do so with absolute diligence and skill, so that the texts are faultless. And whatever books he publishes and keeps in stock, he shall sell and dispose of them at a reasonable price, according to the circumstances of the time, so that no one can complain against him that his goods are too expensive, either in wages or in purchase. And if any complaint is made against him that he uses improper words in relation to any of the aforesaid articles, and it can be reasonably proved, he shall be warned a first and a second time, and if he does not correct his conduct accordingly, he shall

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be found in breach of this privilege and favour. It is forbidden to all, whoever they are or might be, to print any books according to these regulations, or to produce any books against his [Benedict's] will, unless they intend to commit a crime. In such a case, half of the books in their possession are to be returned to us and half to the aforementioned Lauritz Benedicht. And if they do not obey our orders and commandments, they are to be punished.


Dated Copenhagen, November 24th, year 1565


Translation by: Mersiha Bruncevic


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