Loewenstein 2002

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Loewenstein, Joseph. The Author's Due: Printing and the Prehistory of Copyright. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.

An Introduction to Bibliographical Politics

Statute of Anne: first English copyright law; however, case law interpreting it transforms it into a clarification of the nature of common law (13); concerned with manufacturers, not authors, of books

1557, London Stationers' Company has crown-sanctioned monopoly over all printing, sustained through series of Licensing Acts in c17

1694, monopoly allowed to lapse; Commons ignored petitions from printers/publishers (had anti-monopolist stance); publishers began casting their appeal as being on behalf of authors

1710, bill says "the Author of any Book or Books and his Assignee or Assigns, shall have the sole Liberty of printing and reprinting such Book or Books for the Term of 14 yrs" from the date of 1st publication ; success in claims of infringement depended on registration; after 14 years, right returns to author for another 14 if he/she is still alive (14)

real property vs. literary property, values shifting (16)

Donaldson v. Becket; Statute of Anne "was found to be the preeminent source of authorial protection: even if it were granted that an author had property rights at cmomon law in his or her published work, the Statute of Anne was found to have taken away those common law rights once and for all" (17); "the idea of 'natural' property was checked by an idea of property as artificial, as the product of deliberate social will" (17)

  • what are ideas? and who can own them? we still don't have an answer to this
  • "the proceedings yielded a communal concession that property -- all property -- is a social institution, not one of the visibilia of the created universe" (21)

law of intellectual property not necessarily an index of cultural experience of intellectual property (21); "at any given cultural moment the institutions regulating intellectual property may conflict; they suggest, that is, that rival reifications of the cultural status of intellectual property may coexist" (21)

"my purpose is to reproduced not the image of literary property but the imagery of literary property, the political economy of the book as it is traced in law, in commerce, in the behavior of writers and booksellers, and in the rhetoric of books themselves" (22)
"trying to find out what book culture has to do with the book trade" (22); "the book trade is both a significant instance and a significant agent in the transition from feudalism to capitalism" (22) -- modern commodity of capitalist consumers
"more often than not, criticism has (perhaps inevitably) continued to favor the study of literature as a product, and not a producer, of history. The instrumentality of literature stlil remains more asserted than described" (23)

return to New Bibliography -- not "the vestigial bardolatry that permeated their enterprise," but the spirit of their criticism

careful with history -- "inquiry into sequence, cause, and change within literary culture, and it yields multiple origins; my narrative traces an uneven development and a revolution" (25)

The Reformation of the Press: Patent, Copyright, Piracy

three institutions for regulating Elizabethan press:

  • "statutory and censorious, the required royal licensing"
  • entrance to Stationers' Company
  • registration
"Licensing served the Crown as a mechanism of ideological control, safeguarding England from sedition or heresy; entry served the guild as a mechanism of economic control, safeguarding the stationers from internal hostility and profit-shrinking competition." (29)

case of John Wolfe, recklessly pirating materials outside SR

trajectories that came out of mid-16c piracy:

  • at end of 16c, "a shift in power from producer to trader" (38);
  • "the unrest of these years brought about a new regulatory drive within the book trade" (38)
  • proprietary instability

in sum: "accelerated stratification of the book trade, a concomitant rejuvenation of internal indusrial regulation, and new forms of proprietary instability (provoked by and provoking the regulatory drive)" (42)

"Here, then, is the major institutional effect of the revolt against the printing patent: the rights conferred by entry were consolidated, while the risks of failing to register also increased. The status of guild membership was also bolstered: restrictions on alien printing, and on printing and publishing by nonstationers, were suddenly much more rigorously enforced. At the same time we find the alliance of guild interests with those of the Crown growing stronger, a trend that George Unwin finds among many other Elizabethan guilds, often mediated by a steadily strengthened municipal jurisdiction over guild affairs." (39)

1643 Licensing Act has some recognition of authorial rights (39)

"As assaults on the patent modulate into transgressions of stationer's copyright, modern notions of literary property begin to surface within industrial disputes: the assent of the author becomes one of the anchors of disputed entrance. Author's rights will thus appear as back-formations within the development of industrial copyright." (44)

identifying particular authors with particular publishers (authors as "brands" publisher puts out) is staple of contemporary literary culture; "Print is the enabling condition of this sort of literary identity. The various literary cursus transmitted by manuscript culture to early modern Europe, the conventions that unite several literary products behind a single auctoritas, receive powerful reinforcement by print culture, for individual works look a great deal like one another under the homogenizing influence of typography. when the identity, the singularity, of an author like Sidney is given the visual support of a printer's house style across a range of distinct authorial products, the nature of the literary cursus is massively transformed." (48) -- "bibliography underwrites the unity of the writing" (48)

"This consolidation of the authorship in a typographically and commercially 7unified object -- one of the distinguishing features of what is someetiems called, not too carefully, the commodification of authorship -- is not, of course, the singular achievement of Ponsonby. When, in the 1580s, Wolfe made himself Alberico and Scipio Gentili's regular publisher and printer, he was not only cultivating a particular and distinguishing 'line' of books, he was conferring on both brothers typographic and commercial identities peculiarly public and peculiarly stabilizing. Even this is not entirely an innovation. Printers had long cultivated stable relationships with particular scholars, employing them as editors or press correctors -- one thinks of Aldus's relations with Erasmus, or Wolfe's relations with Petruccio Ubaldini, his proofreader for Italian books and the author of several histories issued by Wolfe in Italian -- and although it is a small step from resident editor to house author in temrs of the organization of a working print shop, this small step helped produce one of the most important of modern transformations in the sociology of authorship." (48)

Monopolies Commercial and Doctrinal

Ingenuity and the Mercantile Muse: Authorship and the History of the Patent

"The narrative of Jonson's career in England's public and published sphere is a constant scramble for vantage, from theater to press, from theater to banqueting house, from banqueting house to press, from quarto to folio -- all of which can be described as a constant flight from publicity to privacy." (93)
"one could easily speak of Jonson's practice as a strenuous and, sometimes, blunt attempt to force the printed book to function like the scribal codex and the trad in printed books to recapitulate the commerce in manuscripts" (94) -- he is a "neoconservative artisan"
"Across the spectrum of English book culture, a set of practices that I have generally grouped under the rubrid of 'editorial repossession' accumulated, occasionally disrupting stationer's intellectual property (albeit usually quite inadvertently) but eventually quite explicitly resisting that property." (94)
"The issue of continuity of copyright is a disputed area of historical bibliography, disputed largely because the evidence implies that conflicting practices operated simultaneously -- one of the most obvious signs of the ferment in the sphere of intellectual property. Generally speaking a stationer could not hope to wrest copyright from a colleague simply on the grounds that the version originally entered and printed was somehow defective." (100) -- "Although this accommodation seems to concede rival claims, the company usually gave the highest priority to maintaining continuity of copyright, which safeguarded capital and preserved the corporate authority, the crude anchor of 'fellowship'." (100)

presenting texts as corrected, revised, augmented, etc., as "important aspect of marketing in the late Elizabethan book trade. It may now be added that this significant feature of marketing, however important it is for many authors' sense of their own place in a developing book culture, does not impinge much on the calculus of property relations internal to the company. However much an individual author might wish to replace a bad text, the company continued its resistance to authorial intrusion." (105)

stationers practices not suited to revision, adaptation, augmentation, excision, sequel, minimal variation, etc.;

  • "In the burgeoning culture of writing that print had fostered, these practices had flourished, effectively challenging trade practices that had subsisted under a regime of habit and common sense, of impure practical reason." (106)
"The privilege is not simply an ad hoc arrangement between the Crown and a loyal retainers; it is not disarticulated from the institutional history of the book trade. It emerges, rather, from a history of continouus and coherent interaction between an author and a company deliberately at odds over where the rights to control the reproduction and distribution of writing ought properly to be located." (107-8)
"The stationers, for their part, recognized that their own prerogatives would need shoring up in the face of a developed antimonopolistic climate of opinion, and this led them to a renewed emphasis on their status as ideological workers. This is hwo they presented themselves to a skeptical parliament in the early 1640s and how they would continue to present themselves throughout the seventeenth century." (109)
"the early patent has been shown to elaborate, specify, and, in some instances, confound a variety of older institutional protections. the protection of individual craftsmen -- of printers or of other manufacturers -- specifies monopolies traditionally proper to corporate institutions (market towns, guilds) and although such protections originate as occasional political interventions designed to attract and naturalize new forms of luxury production, they develop into protomercantilist habits of protectionism and emerge as crucial to royal fiscal policy. The protection of authorized texts, in particular, adapts not only ecclesiastical canonization of texts but also the pecia system, by means of which university monopolies on education were extended to enable the controlled production and distribution of study-texts." (110)
"In effect, the royal power to enforce a monopoly was delegated to the Stationers' Company and so reinforced the municipal monopoly that was the customary perquisite of its guild status. But the privilege was never fully displaced by stationer's copyright -- the latter was easier to acquire but the former could cover whole classes of books and, in the case of particular works obviously of exceptional commercial value, was no doubt thought a particularly sturdy form of protection." (112-13)

transformation of the term "invention"

  • "historians of literature will recognize that 'invention' was undergoing a similar transformation as a technical rhetorical term. For centureis the science of invention, the methodical probing and elaboration of the topics available for speech or writing, was conceived as a fundamentally spatial system, a trek within mental space -- hence the cognates 'topic' and 'topography', or the connotations of "commonplace". But one of the most powerful upheavals in Renaissance rhetorical theory is the "dislocation" of invention; in fact, it was an upheaval that eventually led to the collapse of traditional rhetoric." (117)
  • "Invention was no longer to be a process of sorting through established categories and recovering received formulae, all imagined as the systematic traversing of a mental edifice or landscape; it was instead to be a method for, well, inventing -- an uncertain method for surprising rather than reaffirming, for coming to terms with the unmapped."
  • "Nowhere are the effects of this dislocation of mental effort so striking -- and so remarkably unmediated -- as in the poetry of Milton. Again and again, Milton stages a crisis of vocation as a crisis of location." (117)
"This 'birth of the modern' is reenacted at the occasion of any important struggle for control of a powerful new information technology. A transformation in the available means of storing and distributing information inevitably requires of a culture that it renegotiate its conception of how information is produced, that it reinvent invention." (119)
"The royal interventions that produced the earliest printing privileges had evolved into a general protection of the book trade, and yet, less than two decades into Elizabeth's reign, privilege and copyright began to face off as opponents. Since the copyright system subjected all book production, at least potentially, to communally constrained competition, the royal prerogative so close to the surface in the archaic patent was set at odds with the guild custom that was its descendant, with the paradoxical result that Wolfe and his fellows could now represent the printing patent as an enormity." (122)

"the printing press is a mechanism for counterfeiting" (122)

"Long before the ages of Defoe or Diderot, then, the press had begun to wreak a kind of deadpan mechanical satire, disrupting the status of artisanal and professional expertise by means of the demystification of practical knowledge." (123)
"The press puts individualization and novelty of technique under severe pressure, and so undermines the groundwork of the monopoly patent." (123)

Monopolizing Culture: Two Case Studies

Personality and Print: Areopagitica and the Genetics of Intellectual Property

"There is a consensus among historians of the book trade that the 1637 decree was promoted by the Company for the benefit of Stationers." (159)
"Stuart protectionism more than complements censorship." (160)

continue between 1637 Star Chamber decree, and 1662 acts

"Many of the details reflect the frustrations of the censor in the face of a polemical ingenuity that had made the printed book into a manifold medium of complex messages: not only was copy for 'body-text' to be licensed, but front matter, illustrative material, and other textual apparatuses were now to be approved. The 1637 decree thus fully politicizes the material and commercial book, for by the extent of its provisions the decree confirms that the literary commodity is saturated with political meanings." (160)

Foucault and authorship (161-2)

"The order was perhaps more consequential in other, subtler ways: the emphasis on authorial consent establishes a sociopolitical distinction between manuscript and printed book. Consent helps to discriminate the publication of copy-texts never intended for print from the publication of works either composed with print dissemination in mind or grappled to the print medium later, in a second authorial thought." (163)
"To be a man in print was to be a different kind of man than to be a man in manuscript, certainly; it is also true that this differential subjectification elaborated the differentiation between media. The boldness of the man in print (a boldness uncertainly gendered, as Wall has discovered) distinguished print from handwriting; the punishable author of the printed book leaves a faintly bloody smudge on the medium itself." (163)
"The petitioners argue that the flow of books across an extensive distribution network and the maintenance of various stocks in England's bookshops depended on copyright, on the confidence of print capitalists that wholesaling and sales on consignment would not put their investments at risk." (168)
"The year 1645 was a watershed: the defeated rebels were booksellers, long ascendant within the company; the printers, now thriving, had been the company's underdogs during the Elizabethan years." (169)
"I have offered this account of the politics of the book trade during the Interregnum as a way of qualifying the Foucauldian hypothesis. Censorship both leads and lags the less piquant violence of hierarchy and capital in the regulatory struggles that shape book culture in the Civil War, taking its place within a constellation of political events, economic interests, and ideological adjustments that informed the campaign for freedom of the press in the 1640s. We can now gauge Milton's place within these devlopments and can recognize Areopagitica -- so important in the history of book culture; so much more important in the historiography of book culture -- as an epiphenomenon of tendencies that led, at the same time, to a major upheaval within the book trade during the spring of 1645." (170)

looking at "the resemblance between the stationers' desires and those of the poet somewhat differently, as evidence of the economic substrate of Milton's imagination." (171)

  • "Both Aropagitica and Paradise Lost offer images of heroic contest between principles or ideological representatives, a battlefield of ideas; but the conflicted desire that motivates these works, the desire to restrict and to be restricted, is imbued with the logic of post-Caroline economic and ideological regulation -- if the term 'logic' can refer to a formation so scarred by contradiction and bad faith." (171)
"Areopagitica is suffused with animus; the inflation of the ethical is central to both its tactics and its influence." (172)
"the oral residue, the spokenness of the pamphlet accords with a will to erase the mechanical-industrial mediation of the book trade, to efface anything that might disrupt the dream of complete intimacy between composition and reception. This erasure is more than a mere rhetorical device; the resistance to mediation makes itself felt in the argument proper." (172-3)
"Writing is again a perdurable stand-in for the writer, but in his curious attempt to impose a nearly physiological precision on his figure of the relation between writer and writing, Milton succeeds only in mystifying the relationship. ... the written is certainly not here abstracted or detached. Books are a sort of sperm bank" (174) -- Bacon also employs the "disseminative figure" for the book
"The impression of Milton's mortalism and monism, first, may be discerned in the distinctively physiological character of the aftereffect of writing, its potency embalmed as a nearly material immortality. On the other hand, the tactical project of denigrating the industrial mediation of the press inhibits the representation of the book as independent and fully embodied. Even in figure, the potency of books is not specified to their materiality -- which is why the figurative cadenze comes to rest as it does, with licencing an assault on a most mysteriously hedged materiality. ... Of course, Milton had another motive for inhibiting the materialism of the figure. By means of abstraction, etherealization, he sought to untether books from local, particular, and momentary interest." (175)

written as "intimate, even consubstantial, with the writer" (175), even as Milton emphasizes the tract's oral qualities

"Here the excited genetics of the book are most fully mystified. Filled with the potency of authors, books are nonetheless purified and nearly independent of individual interest; in the this case, the birth of the book is blocked not at the womb but at the grave, as if licensed writing were a mere regress." (176)

Milton and image of nonreproductive wombs; "if nothing else, Milton's redeployment of this figure as part of an argument against licensing indicates his intuition that licensing and the stationers' monopoly are related matters, the one a prop to the other." (177)

"The economic register obtrudes sharply here, just over halfway through Areopagitica, emerging from the language of esteem and evaluation and coming into focus with the figure of the book as coin of the realm, authenticated by the stamp of the licenser's imprimatur." (178)

at points, "Milton embraces the analogy between unfettered commercial circulationa nd unfettered discursive circulation." (181)

"it is easy to misread the language of commodification in Areopagitica as mere description or mere protestation, and so to miss its speculative force. I have been emphasizing both the irresolution and the energy with which Milton figures books and thought in order to recover the predestinational moment of intellectual property, the moment when property in ideas could still present itself as imaginable, but not as a given." (182)
"the chief function of the heroic body-receptacle, the book or the nation, is to outlive." (183)

in some of Milton's descriptions "we can discern a will to describe books as not qutie property. As survivalist effort on the brink of commodification, thought and writing are made to seem uncomfortably but inevitably economic objects -- not such wares." (185)

"A distorted inversion of this priciple haunts Milton's venerating reference to the order, the politico-juridical fantasy that attribution mitigates, even neutralizes, transgression: the attributed text is not only harmless, but a privileged instrument of Reformation; the unattributed text is a scapegoat, alienable and manageable." (187)
"Milton's insistence on the seminal potencies of thought and the genetics of books exaggerates the personifying habits of a culture of licensing to the point at which genetics detaches itself from its origins in dieological regulation to become something like an independent principle, as natural as biology and as fundamental as the relationship between body and soul. The treatise thus repudiates licensing while retaining attribution, which is transformed from a practical instrument into a structure of thought, what we might call and ideologeme." (187)
"As far as Milton was concerned, the rights of copy had been justly preserved in the 1642 act, which is to say that parliamentary protection of stationer's copyright had not flagged. this exposes what i take to be the least intuitive aspect of the analysis I have been offering: that Milton endorses the tethering of copy to stationer (in the interests as much of jurisdictional stability as of economic justice) and powerfully figures a tethering of book to author (both in the interests of a pathetic argument for the free circulation of ideas and as part of a variously motivated corporealization of thought), but without much apparent interference between these two polemical activities." (189)
"It is important to notice what the figure of intellectual paternity accomplishes. If books 'contain a potencie of life in them to be as active as that soule was whose progeny they are,' if 'they do preserve as i na violl the purest efficacie and extraction of that living intellect that bred them,' paternity begets not property but more paternity. The figure of genetics argues the case for no authorial rights whatsoever, deploying its animated pathos on behalf of a quite unindividualized intellectual life." (189)

Milton's Talent: The Emergence of Authorial Copyright

Authentic Reproductions

Bibliography "as 'the disciplined reconstruction of manuscript copy-texts for printed books', a bibliographic project of uncertain Newness" (251)

would be "illuminating to describe the New Bibliography as a research program in industrial history" (251)

  • "Pollard's formulation is the founding myth of the New Bibliography -- that textual integrity and regulated intellectual property are somehow mutually entailed: in this dream the choice of 'best text' and the location of intellectual property rights are identical labors" (252)
"Lee's collotype facsimile [of Shakespeare] constitutes a strange boundary creature, a manufactured rarity, neither old nor new. Is it live or is it Memorex?" (259-260)
"The new reproductive technologies were crucial, of course, to the New Bibliography." (260) -- photography for facsimiles, etc.
"bibliography was inventing new tests, new ways of mapping the bibliographic past, that scholarship advanced by policing a market in which both authorship and property, as they were casually understood, had been scandalized. Of course this could be reframed from a different perspective: it would be equally fair to say that a forgery is simply bibliography's way of producing a New Bibliography. In each instance the page was held up to the light in such a way that the investigator was relieved of the seductive distractions of the printed word itself. authorship could only be enforced by looking past its literal traces." (261)