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The Author's Due : Printing and the Prehistory of Copyright

Loewenstein, Joseph

University of Chicago Press
Published:July 14, 2002

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Description: From the Inside Flap
The Author's Due offers a sustained investigation of the emergence of proprietary authorship from the establishment of a printing industry in England to the passage, in 1610, of the Statute of Anne, which provided the legal underpinnings for modern copyright. Joseph Loewenstein reveals that copyright is a form of monopoly that can only be understood as part of a much broader battle for and against other early modern protectionisms, such as commercial trusts, manufacturing patents, confessional exclusions, and acts of censorship.

Throughout this ambitious work, Loewenstein shows how the regulation of the English press set competing interests and monopolistic structures against each other, and how this institutional friction proved to be artistically and politically productive. Struggles between journeymen and masters, guildmembers and nonprofessionals, printers and booksellers, as well as authors and publishers, all figure decisively in The Author's Due. Loewenstein contends that these rivalries crucially shaped early capitalist economics while fundamentally affecting the literary and intellectual practices of early modern authors such as Swift, Pope, Milton, and Shakespeare.

With its probing look, then, at the origins of copyright and their profound influence on early modern English literature, The Author's Due recovers the central achievements of earlier bibliographic scholars for a whole new generation of critics. A work of both cultural and institutional history, it will prove to be a watershed for historians of printing, legal and literary scholars, and anyone interested in the politics of information, intellectual property, and new media.

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