Monday, June 05, 2017


Copyright and Freedom of Expression: the dilemma of Intellectual property

GUTENBERG 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 on one hand, and the said 550-page volume of documents on 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.

Editions La Dondaine
8 rue de la Chaussée

© Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU, 2017
The moral right of the author has been asserted
All rights reserved

Cover Illustration
© Annunzio Coulardeau & Jacques Coulardeau
The moral right of the authors has been asserted
All rights reserved

Product Details

File Size: 1606 KB
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Editions La Dondaine; 1 edition (March 13, 2017)
Publication Date: March 13, 2017
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
Text-to-Speech: Enabled
Word Wise: Enabled
Lending: Not Enabled
Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled

US$5.00 - €4.68 - £4.19

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

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