SMC228H1 Lecture Notes - Perpetual Copyright, The Morning Chronicle, William Caxton

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Published on 19 Nov 2012
November 29, 2011
The Book Trade and the Legalities of Printing
-All Blackboard posts must be submitted by noon on Monday Dec. 5
Final Exam:
-2 hours
-4 sections
-The exam is cumulative but focuses more on the second half of the term
-We’ll do some exam review in the final (3rd) hour of next week’s lecture
-Lindsey will not answer questions about the exam over email
-Section 1: vocabulary fill in the blank
10 x 2 pts. each
-Section 2: Format and collation statements
10 questions x 3 pts. Each
General questions + given collation statement and answer questions about what format,
how many pages
-Section 3: Short answer. Choice of 2 questions
1 x 15 pts. each
-Section 4: Essay
1 question x 35 pts.
What does Lindsey want?
-Complete sentences and organized paragraphs - outline prior to writing is good
-Proper use of terms
-Demonstration of familiarity with the readings from the course and the major concepts we’ve
discussed in class
“The coming into being of the notion of ‘author constitutes the privileged moment of
individualization in the history of ideas, knowledge, literature, philosophy, and the sciences.
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Even today when we reconstruct the history of a concept, literary genre, or school of philosophy,
such categories seem relatively weak, secondary, and superimposed scansions in comparison
with the solid and fundamental unit of the author and the work”
- Michel Foucault, “What is an Author?”
-Term of author, editor, in flux in history
Authorship and the Book Trade
-Mark Rose and other book historians such as William St. Clair have argued that without
concrete copyright laws, our modern notion of the individual author would not exist
-It’s dependent on things we don’t automatically associate with authors
-Authorship and literature in general breaks down to legal and economic agreements
-The book tare has almost always required either regulating bodies or monopolies; it does not
respond well to the free market
-What form these regulations took (and what bodies did the regulating) has changed over history
-Wasn’t always standardized regulated thing; has had some regulation since the 15th century
The Legalities of Printing
-Copyright: monopoly on the right to reproduce and distribute a particular work - complete
control; “mine mine mine!”
-The work is own (by, for example, the author, a bookseller, or publisher)
-Ownership is exclusive
-Copyright was a largely irrelevant concept for most of the history of printing
-Need for copyright developed with the printed book - start to see increase of scale; possible to
totally satisfy market demand (if you mass-produce the same book, you don’t want other people
to mass-produce it too because you’ll lose money)
-Plagiarism: ethical infringement; you say someone else’s ideas are your own (not the realm of
-Copyright violation: economic infringement (less to do with stealing someone’s book and
putting your name on it; more to do with you’re taking my book and making money off it)
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The Legalities of Printing: Before Modern Copyright
-William Caxton brought printing to England in 1476
-Printing involved higher outlay of capital and therefore higher financial risk than manuscript
reproduction (need to buy a press, a few sets of type, trained employees)
-Unchecked competition between early printers resulted in many bankruptcies
-Unchecked competition was detrimental to trade as a whole; people produce the same product
and brought the value down
-A lot of people tried to print and failed disastrously: outlay capital but can’t sell wares
-Initially through professional courtesy and agreement, eventually through legal channels, right
to distribute a text was granted to the first person to publish it
-Copyright belonged to printer/bookseller/publisher, not author
-Sell manuscript to printer; once the book is printed, the printer owns the text (the author doesn’t
see any money from the text even if it’s a best seller; the author gets a lump sum for selling the
- Copyright held in perpetuity (forever - copyright does not expire ever); all text effectively
under copyright
-Once a book was published, copyright belonged to its trade publisher; some authors sold their
manuscript to 2 printers to collect 2 sums
-This “first published first owned” policy made pirating particularly dangerous - like a mafia:
spies were everywhere
-Piracy was controlled by the Stationers’ Company (guild of printers; place to go to register and
sometimes pay them to indicate that you owned the rights to a book). Ownership rights were
not protected unless a book was officially entered into the register of the Stationers’ Company
The Legalities of Printing: 1710 Act of Queen Anne
-Difficult for starting-out new publishers who hadn't been born into the trade to make a profit
-“for the encouragement of learning”
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