The Author's DuePrinting and the Prehistory of Copyright

The Author's DuePrinting and the Prehistory of Copyright

Joseph Loewenstein

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226490403

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


This book offers an institutional and cultural history of books, the book trade, and the bibliographic ego. The author traces the emergence of possessive authorship from the establishment of a printing industry in England to the passage of the 1710 Statute of Anne, which provided the legal underpinnings for modern copyright. Along the way he demonstrates that the culture of books, including the idea of the author, is intimately tied to the practical trade of publishing those books. As the author shows, copyright is a form of monopoly that developed alongside a range of related protections such as commercial trusts, manufacturing patents, and censorship, and cannot be understood apart from them. The regulation of the press pitted competing interests and rival monopolistic structures against one another—guildmembers and nonprofessionals, printers and booksellers, authors and publishers. These struggles, in turn, crucially shaped the literary and intellectual practices of early modern authors, as well as early capitalist economic organization.