Monday, June 05, 2017
Copyright and Freedom of Expression: the dilemma of Intellectual property
AND FUST (and Schoeffer)
The sorry tale of Gutenberg and Fust:
1450-1457. How it all started and how printing was a business from the start
and the books were just one asset among others of that business: the obvious “copyright”
on the Gutenberg Bibles was not attached to Gutenberg, the inventor but to the
machines, the fonts, the owner of these and the owner of the paper. All the
rest was romanticism, though superbly fundamental for the existence and
protection of cultural creativity, of creative intellectual property. Hereafter
is that sorry story.
“When Gutenberg accepts a loan of
800 guilders in 1450 from Johann Fust, a rich burgher in Mainz, pledging his
printing equipment as security, he is no doubt delighted to be able to continue
his experiments in an exciting new craft. But the relationship is one which
will bring him disaster.
“In 1452 Gutenberg receives
another 800 guilder from Fust, accepting him now as a partner in the business.
And on the technical side the business is going well. By 1455 printing is well
under way of Gutenberg's
ambitious Bible. When the first copies are ready, in 1456, funds will begin to
flow into the business. Either this knowledge, or perhaps a personal quarrel,
must lie behind Fust's action of 1455.
“Fust demands his money back,
suing Gutenberg in 1455 for 2026 guilders - representing the loan plus accrued
interest. In November a court finds in favour of Fust. Gutenberg loses all
rights in his presses, his type, his premises and the sheets already printed of
his Bible. Fust takes on the business with Peter Schoeffer, Gutenberg's
foreman, in charge of the presses.
“Fust and Schoeffer publish
anonymously the superb 42-line Bible in 1456. History, with justice, refers to
it as the Gutenberg Bible.
But the magnificent Mainz psalter of 1457, work on which must almost certainly
have started before Gutenberg's removal, features the names of Fust and Schoeffer.
“Gutenberg is still in Mainz in
1457 but thereafter nothing is heard of him until 1465, when he is given a post
in the court of the archbishop of Mainz. He dies in 1468. By then Fust too is
dead, a victim perhaps of the plague on a bookselling trip to Paris in 1466.
“Peter Schoeffer inherits the
business and in 1467 marries Fust's daughter, Christina. He continues to run
the Mainz presses, with considerable success, until his death in about 1502.”
That was the sorry story of the beginnings
of printing and copyright. The word, the concept will be invented in England
and it is only in the 18th century that the concept of Intellectual
property will be devised and discussed for the first time in the House of
Lords. And that was the beginning of the IP rights of authors. And still today
in the world we do not have a uniform conception and protection of this
Intellectual Property and of authors.
The 18-page synthetic presentation of both the Kindle 210
pages of personal notes, reviews, discussion and presentation of the documents available
in free open access at academia.edu on one hand, and the said 550-page volume
of documents on academia.edu on the other hand.
It contains the two introductions and the two Tables of Content of the two
volumes and some illustrations on the very subject of Copyright, Fair Use and
the Freedom of Expression.
© Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU, 2017
The moral right of the author has
The moral right of the authors has
Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Editions La Dondaine; 1 edition (March 13, 2017)
Date: March 13, 2017
by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
This volume only contains the
author’s commentaries and personal opinions and presentations of the various
documents. The documents themselves are mostly available on the Internet but
you can access them all in one open access volume at