Privileges were granted to the printers, not the authors/composers, who usually got none of the profits of sales. In fact copyright laws were created because of this very fact, in the 18th century. Pirated copies of course included the privilege page and the name of the authorized publisher - think about xeroxing a book and selling it as the authorized copy... It's a fascinating history with many twists that has been going on for as long as publishing has been in existence. In 16th century England, the King's printers were French, and pirated copies of official documents by English printers were common and an act of patriotism ... - Authors relied on subscriptions and patronage to publish their works, or just plain old vanity publishing at their own cost. If I remember correctly, very few pieces published with an attribution to Henry Purcell were actually by that composer: pieces with his name on them sold better than those attributed to Anonymous. In other words, authors and composers had  little to zero control over their works. Yet, without unauthorized manuscript copies and piracies, we would know very little about the lute repertoire of the time, so perhaps we should be thankful to those early hackers...

But I think it is wrong to talk about copyright before 1710. Publishers made good use of the public domain as soon as they could, 75 years after the first copyright law, with large collections of the "Classics of English literature" by Swift, Pope, Defoe etc. that fell out of copyright at that time. Funnily enough at about the same time as we start talking about "Classical music", although "old fashioned" music was less susceptible to be reprinted - at least for a while longer than literature.

On 02/21/2018 02:39 AM, G. C. wrote:
    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    From: G. C. <[1]>
    Date: Wed, Feb 21, 2018 at 11:26 AM
    Subject: Re: [LUTE] Re: Francesco or da Crema
    To: Alain Veylit <[2]>
    When you read the foreword of old prints, there is often a line about
    "a five year copyright by royal decree", already in the early vihuela
    books. And what about 1536, when the Gardano (?) copyright ended and a
    deluge of prints ensued. And that was more like really having
    monopolized the market for a very long time! But plagiarism and
    copyright are 2 different things. No doubt, there was a lot of "common"
    material, runs, chord changes, modulations, counterpoint, etc. which
    could be put in here and there where convenient without being
    considered plagiarism. Quotes of "Susanne un jour" seem to have been
    especially popular! (See f. ex. Ness #83)
    And in this context, was Phalese really "pirating" (which has been
    generally claimed), or just printing works which had ceased to be in "a
    five year copyright by royal decree" or some such formulation?


    On Wed, Feb 21, 2018 at 5:30 AM, Alain Veylit
    <[3]> wrote:
    If I remember correctly the first copyright law appeared in England ca.
    1714. Pirated editions made the bread and butter of many printers
    before then. But, it is only when copyrights were in force that authors
    started to make a living out of their published works. Before that it
    was a system of sponsorship and patronage (cf the lavish dedications in
    most works of the 16th and 17th century). On a somewhat ironic note,
    Alexander is supposed to have met secretly with the publisher who had
    systematically pirated his editions, to provide him with a "stolen"
    copy of his own forthcoming poetry. Being pirated was good publicity.
    Dowland bitched quite a bit about incorrect versions of his pieces
    being in circulation, but I don't think this really affected his bottom
    line. I can be wrong.




To get on or off this list see list information at

Reply via email to