Pirated printing

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
With a retail price of 5 shillings expensive, but complete and with copper: the first edition by Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (London: W. Taylor, 1719).
For only 2 shillings: the competitor shortens the text, prints it under his own name and later claims that his employees have worked in his absence: “Amsterdam Coffee-House edition” by Defoes Robinson Crusoe (London: T. Cox, 1719).

The pirated print is a term for an unauthorized reprint of a printed work by a competing publisher, which usually conceals its own identity.

To the interests

The victim of pirated printing was the original publisher in early book printing - a situation that changed when the concept of so-called intellectual property and a new legal positioning of the author over copyright shifted the interests. Today, pirated printing is the unauthorized reproduction of a work that has already been printed and is protected by copyright; As a rule, the injured party is the author or his legal successor and the publisher, whose previous investments are used by third parties.

Adjacent areas today are the permissible copy (in which the VG-Wort receives a share of the cost in the German-speaking area, which is passed on to the authors according to a distribution key ), trademark piracy , the commercial unauthorized copy of a copyrighted work , the unauthorized exchange of copyrighted copies via file-sharing networks and voluntary production in copyright and license-free projects that enter into open competition with the market protected by copyright.

Before Copyright, 1500–1750

Two fundamental shifts separate the early modern press market from the market that emerged in the 19th century :

  • As a rule, authors were paid once upon submission of the manuscript , and the other profits and other business risks were left exclusively to the publisher .
  • There was no general publishing right that protected publishers from one another to the present day.

Pirated printing was a problem that publishers in particular had to face, without usually being able to take legal action against them.

Interests of authors and publishers

Authors submitted manuscripts and were paid for them. Here, the remuneration was mostly based on the start of the printed sheet . Your work was rewarded. In practice, trading was more complex: Authors received advances when their works sold well. They could ask for more money if the publisher did better business with them than with other writers. In this system, pirated printing actually benefited the author: if other publishers reprinted his title, only the first publisher suffered the damage. As a rule, the mistake was made by the first publisher: If he had published the title higher up and placed it in the offer where the pirated print appeared, then it would have been uninteresting to reprint the title there. The pirated author could count on his publisher to sell it more widely in the future, and he could ask to be financially involved in precisely that wider sale. Voltaire allegedly increased his market value compared to his first publisher by playing his work into the hands of the potential pirate printer himself and urging the injured first publisher to do better work on the next book.

The translation into a foreign language did not count as pirated printing - this increased the fame of the author on the international stage and with it his sales in his own country as soon as this fame spread there. Authors and publishers were interested in translations and the advertising factor they represented and did not see their own rights being curtailed.

The unchanged reprinting abroad represented a gray area. In the early modern period, the publishers in the Netherlands , who specialized in French works , stood out here in particular . In theory, they printed for their own market and, viewed in this way, did not damage the first French publishers. In practice, however, the Dutch served the European market more efficiently than the French, whose goods thus lost international sales. They could not be prosecuted. As a result, it became increasingly interesting for French authors (and Italian composers who published their scores internationally) to deliver the manuscripts straight to the Dutch publishers and to demand higher fees from them. (This relocation gained additional interest if it could circumvent domestic censorship regulations .)

The big problem for the author was not the piracy, but the plagiarism , the appearance of another author with exactly the same idea. The answer to the plagiarism was usually a feud between the authors, in which the aim was to publicly prove who had stolen from whom and who adorned himself with whose feathers. The goal had to be to make the competition impossible in front of everyone.

The practice of piracy and responses to it

Marie de LaFayette , Zayde (Paris: C. Barbin, 1670), first edition with royal privilege

Pirated prints in their own country usually appeared without the publisher's name, with an obviously bogus imprint (“A Cologne, chez Pierre Marteau ”, “Cölln, bey Peter Marteau” was the most popular, obviously false information), or especially boldly directly under the label of the first publisher . Pirated printers published less often under their own name, they dared to do so, especially when they were based abroad, because the national borders then offered them protection.

Any printer and publisher had obtained the competitor's title, set it anew and put it on the market in this form - he had saved the costs for the translator or the author, the goods went on sale from him. Practical problems remained when the pirated printer wanted to bring his goods into supraregional trade. To this end, the publishers (who were all booksellers at the same time) met at regular book fairs , to which they brought their few self-produced titles with them in large editions, exchanged them with one another and returned them with a wide range of products . Anyone who came to the fair with pirated prints made it impossible for them to see their colleagues with whom they had to swap. He excluded himself from further trading if no one traded with him anymore. Pirated printing was therefore particularly useful if the pirated printer had its own sales channels - if he could conveniently sell the title in his own shop or swap it with colleagues on the spot.

The standardized counter-strategy against robbery was social ostracism and the establishment of trust networks in which you could find out who was stealing from you. The reaction was not a legal one, but a public one: An interaction in front of the colleagues, in which the aim was to create a mood against the competitor.

In relation to social ostracism , there was another official way of prevention , pressure under privilege . In the case of expensive publishing works, the company obtained sovereign or imperial protection: “With Königl. Pohln. and Churf. Saxon. Privilegio ”or“ Avec Privilege du Roy ”was then in the last line on the title page . The sovereign threatened to prosecute any pirate printing. As a rule, books appeared without this costly protection. Since he could not be legally enforced outside the territory of the respective sovereign, he did not guarantee that the title would not be reprinted, nor that illegal reprinters would be caught. In the case of large publishing houses, protection made sense because first-time publishers could most likely trust that the conspicuous work could not be brought to the market as a reprint inconspicuously.

Productive uncertainty

It is negligent to transfer the ideas of the modern publishing book trade to the early modern era. The interactions between authors and publishers, the interactions that prevailed within the professions, cannot be adequately captured if one sees a game about rights and intellectual property here:

Christian Friedrich Hunold's (alias Menantes) first collection of poems from 1702 contained a poem that caught the eye of a rival who saw here an opportunity to harm Hunold. Hamburg's city council would have to forbid the distribution of this poem if it were presented to it. The publisher and author got wind of the review shortly beforehand. They still had a good hundred unbound copies left; the pages with the poem were exchanged, a harmless one bound in the remaining copies and the newly compiled books were finally distributed among the councilors. The printer was thus defending himself from the city: everyone had original copies in front of them, they did not contain the questionable poem. Only a pirated print, which had been foisted on him, showed it - the buck lay with the plaintiffs who had brought the matter to the city themselves through the ambassadors of Spain and France concerned. They should now have appeared with the proof that their copies were by no means pirated - that was less the problem than that they would have turned out to be the initiators of the intrigue in the first place.

This story is chosen arbitrarily, but it throws a lot of light on the behavior that prevailed where there was no effective protection against theft. In contemporary legal literature, pirated printing was rated as fraud and a punishable falsum (Karl Grundmann: Principles of Criminal Science . Gießen 1798, § 334), but in practice it was viewed more as a shamefulness than a justifiable fact. In extreme cases, those who were held accountable could try to make other pirates to blame. Anyone who had pirated prints on display in their own bookstore asserted in the event of a complaint that they had received them from other publishers and did not know what had been blamed on them. People complained loudly about abuse and worked with a corresponding willingness to take risks in a thoroughly productive system.

The transformation of the market: pirated printing and copyright 1750–1950

The publisher is stripped down to his shirt and Justitia looks away. The pirated print , engraving by Daniel Chodowiecki (1781).

The book market , as it had developed in the early 18th century , showed considerable need for reform in the second half of the century. The development of copyright protection brought authors new forms of revenue sharing and thus created entirely new responsibilities. The author involved in the turnover remained within reach. The publisher could no longer claim that he had bought the manuscript and had no further contact with the seller. Transparency was established in the market through the protection of the author. The access of the authorities could from now on pursue continuous flows of money between those involved - between publishers, authors, translators up to original publishers abroad.

The story of piracy did not end with the new forms of law. As a first step, pirated printing became a practice protected by national borders. The largest and most successful reprinting company in German-speaking countries in the second half of the 18th century was Thomas von Trattner's Viennese publishing house , which began as a school book publisher and finally reprinted all German classics on a large scale and sold them in Austria. He did this with the consent of the Viennese court. In order to be able to sell the reprints more successfully, southern German and Austrian pirate printers, including Trattner, even attempted to establish a trade fair specifically for trading in pirated prints at the end of the 18th century , the so-called Hanau book cover . However, this was banned by the imperial authorities in Vienna after just a few years. It was not until the reorganization implemented by the Leipzig bookseller Philipp Erasmus Reich that reprinting or piracy was curbed.

At the instigation of publishers and booksellers, individual authors and individual German federal states, a resolution was passed by the Federal Assembly of the German Confederation in Vienna on April 2, 1835 , which demanded a general ban on reprinting in all German states : The high and highest governments agree that the reprint in the scope of the entire federal territory is to be forbidden and the writer's property is to be established and protected according to uniform principles. ( Protocols of the German Federal Assembly , Frankfurt am Main 1837, p. 270).

In the meantime, the road to a universally satisfactory copyright law was still long, and the legislators of the federal states were taking their time. The majority of them wanted to introduce a general protection period for printed works of ten years. Prussia, on the other hand, insisted that the term of protection should last up to the thirtieth year after the death of an author, but was initially unable to enforce this tendency. The Federal Assembly of the German Confederation decided on November 9, 1837 as follows:

"Literary products of all kinds, as well as works of art, whether they have already been published or not, may not be reproduced mechanically without the consent of the author, as well as of the person to whom he has transferred his rights to the original."

- Article 1

"The right of the author or of the person who has acquired the property of the literary or artistic work referred to in Art. 1 shall pass to his heir and legal successor, and should, insofar as the editor or publisher is named on the work, at least in all federal states recognized and protected for a period of ten years. "

- Article 2

Compared with the much better regulations in Great Britain and France, that was little, and it took until June 19, 1845, before a resolution of the Federal Assembly determined for all federal states:

"The protection against reprinting and any other unauthorized duplication by mechanical means guaranteed by Article 2 of the resolution of November 9, 1837 for at least ten years from the appearance of a literary product or work of art will henceforth be used within the entire German federal territory for the Lifetime of the authors of such literary and artistic works, and granted for thirty years after their death. "

The expansion of international legal protection, for example through the Bern Agreement of 1886 and the Universal Copyright Convention of UNESCO of 1951, largely solved the remaining problems.

Socialized prints and proletarian reprints

Cover of a typical pirated print from the late sixties

In the left protest and emancipation movement of the 1960s, piracy was discovered as a subversive rebellion against the capitalist system. For use in reading, study and discussion groups, pirated prints were made of writings which at that time were difficult or impossible to obtain in the normal way from libraries or bookshops. It was about the Marxist, socialist, socio-philosophical, psychoanalytic, sociological and educational theory, especially of the twenties and thirties, the classical analyzes, sources and documents on the labor movement, on political economy, on anarchism, syndicalism, on the council movement, on the materialistic one Aesthetics and art theory and especially the work of critical theory of the old Frankfurt, with the seizure of power of fascism emigrated institute for social research . (A. Götz von Olenhusen) The earliest products of this pirate printing movement show many printing defects, they were evidently created for short-term use in current discussion and training contexts.

In addition, important basic texts were reproduced by the pirated printers and thus made accessible again, which were withheld by the authors because, in their opinion, they no longer corresponded to the state of the current development, or which were not reissued by the publishers because they had little sales success was calculated. These prints include essays by Max Horkheimer from the 1930s and Horkheimer / Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment , a script that is now counted among the basic texts of the New Left , as well as writings by Lukács , Korsch , Benjamin , Rosa Luxemburg , Trotsky , Wilhelm Reich and others, that is, what Walter Mehring had listed in his reports on the lost and embezzled library .

Pirated print of the 'Dialectic of Enlightenment' (Adorno / Horkheimer), published by 'Zerschlagt das bürgerliche Copyright'.

The imprint of such prints named as the producing publishers fantasy structures such as “robber's press berlin oberschöneweide”, “red cabbage”, “publisher smashes civil copyright”. The circulation was 500 to 6000 pieces, the prices were low, there were often indications for which left-wing activities the (mostly small) surplus should be used. The established publishers responded through the Börsenverein with lawsuits, searches, bans and a press campaign. However, there were also commercial “pirated prints”, cheap editions of bestsellers in simple cardboard covers, which were mostly sold through “left” bookshops or book tables in front of the universities, such as Sigmund Freud's Collected Works, as well as a reduced reprint of Pretzell & Siebrasse in Berlin Arno Schmidt's Zettel's dream , which became a spectacular case through media coverage. (The pirated printers wanted to hand the author the not inconsiderable fee over the garden fence, but he declined out of consideration for his publisher and for fundamental copyright considerations.)

The pirated printers of the late 1960s and early 1970s justified their activities by saying that the texts made prohibitively expensive by the “capitalist profit system” were “socialized” and “made accessible to the masses”.


Traditional pirated printing

Some areas of traditional pirated printing survive to the present day. Of particular cultural interest here is the illegal printing of texts critical of the regime, which eludes the officially traceable publication channels in order to circumvent censorship. Samizdat presses worked in the Eastern Bloc - private, secretly operating printing presses that made available what was not allowed to be published openly in the country. They run away into the present. In Iran , for example, you can secretly acquire pirated prints of Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses : illegal prints that come onto the market without copyright notices, without publisher information and without clear information from the translator.

Photocopies, duplication of data carriers, data dissemination on the Internet

From 1981 to 1986, there were at least 160 popular book titles in the Federal Republic of Germany that were illegally produced. The total loss for the book trade and publishers was estimated at around 35 million DM (the equivalent of 17.9 million euros). In the 1980s, pirated prints of bestsellers such as The Haunted House , The Name of the Rose , Momo , The Neverending Story , The Perfume , Bottom Of The Bottom, and Kassandra, became popular.

With globalization and the emergence of microelectronics at the end of the 20th century , the topic of pirated printing acquired a new quality via new media. On the one hand, it was privatized: in the 1970s, photocopiers became generally accessible, and anyone could use them to make copies of entire books, which was possible with expensive publishing works well below retail prices. This problem was solved pragmatically in the German-speaking area through the reform of the copyright law of 1972: VG-Wort receives a share of the copying costs, which is distributed to the authors of new publishing works according to the key.

From a commercial point of view, pirated printing proved to be of great commercial interest outside the book trade. Strategies that were only used to market cigarettes and cars in the mid-20th century expanded to include other products: T-shirts, pants and jackets were given clearly visible brand imprints. The result was the production of goods that often looked the same, sometimes of the same value, copied the cut and branding and saved the costs for advertising, expensive customer loyalty and manufacturer guarantees. The term product or brand piracy was coined for this. The emerging Asian markets, which were not immediately transparent for the European and US brands, gained a foothold in this field of production.

With the spread of electronic mass media, there was also the possibility of reproducing music cassettes , video tapes , floppy disks , CDs and DVDs with little effort . This pirated version of digital information is generally referred to as pirated copy . The pirated printing of books was dependent on companies that were technologically well equipped. Due to the widespread use of comparatively cheap technology for copying data carriers, pirated copies could be created privately on a large scale.

At the end of the 20th century by the proliferation of came Internet new, usable for anyone channels such as file sharing , file sharing and peer-to-peer on nets, can be exchanged via any form of electronically available data. Since copies of copyrighted material are also distributed in this way, there are efforts by industry associations such as the Business Software Alliance or the RIAA to track down such copies and take legal action against their distributors. However, these were only successful at certain points. New technologies are being developed to prevent copying of copyrighted content. For example, media formats with a programmed useful life that cannot be extended by copying are in the experimental stage. Another approach is Digital Rights Management (DRM), which, however, has not caught on in the music industry due to customer resistance.

With the spread of the Internet , developments that had shaped the early days of book printing are repeated in a modified form. This applies to pirated printing, both of printed texts that have now reappeared on the Internet and of information that was first published on the Internet and was reproduced in the same medium on other websites.

Initially, this seemed uncritical for the small group of Internet users. Interaction using pseudonyms and the dissemination of information about providers who were able to evade criminal prosecution abroad subsequently shaped the developments of the 16th and 17th centuries. The new market was protected by its confusion. However, the framework conditions were no longer those of the 17th and 18th centuries: States and legal systems were now prepared for the problems. They were able to enforce access to the actual authors via the provider. Large companies now have solid experience in integrating disorganized markets. In the still largely undeveloped field they grew into global monopolies within a few years and sensed their future in the purchase of copyrights and reproduction rights.

New license forms

On the other hand , informal user groups formed among Internet users, for example in the context of Usenet or the open source movement, who developed a counterculture whose principles include resistance to the commercialization of the Internet and free, free and unhindered access to information. The possibility that authors could forego asserting rights of use for their work, which was legally present in the previous copyright system but actually played no role, gained in importance because networks were set up to disseminate work free of rights of use. To legally safeguard this process, separate forms of license such as the GNU FDL or the Creative Commons license have been developed.

In this context, there is no piracy of the information released by the authors, but only the legal and desired distribution. Under the current conditions a distinction must therefore be made between

  • information protected by copyright ,
  • as pirated or pirated copy of illegally distributed information,
  • in the context of copyright law , information that has become public domain due to expiry of the term of protection
  • Information free of usage rights or freely licensed information.

It is unclear how free information will position itself in relation to rights of use. It should be noted, however, that projects such as Wikipedia are perceived by lexicon publishers as competition. This creates new competitive relationships that redefine the relationship between pirated printing, information protected by copyright and new forms of licensing.

Individual evidence

  1. Minutes of the German Federal Assembly 1837, p. 846 ff.
  2. Aktuell '87, ISBN 3-88379-081-8 , p. 217.
  3. Felicitas von Lovenberg: lawsuit against Amazon: stealing of intellectual property. In: FAZ of March 29, 2012, accessed on May 5, 2013.


  • Robert Darnton : The Science of Piracy, a Crucial Ingredient in Eighteenth-Century Publishing. In: Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century. (SVEC). 12, Oxford 2003, ISSN  0435-2866 , pp. 3-29.
  • Jörg Drews, Doris Plöschberger (Ed.): "The poet's eye rolling in fine madness ..." Documents and studies on "Zettel's dream". edition text + kritik, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-88377-658-0 .
  • Günter von Gravenreuth: Plagiarism from a criminal law perspective. Software, video and Brand piracy, pirated prints. The criminal offenses of commercial legal protection. Relevant procedural law. Heymann, Cologne 1986, ISBN 3-452-20379-4 .
  • Ludwig Friedrich Griesinger: The reprint of books from the point of view of law, morality and politics. Macklot, Stuttgart 1822.
  • Hanauer book cover. In: Lexicon of the entire book industry . Volume III, 2nd edition. Verlag Anton Hiersemann, Stuttgart 1991, p. 345.
  • Johann Stephan Pütter: The reprinting of books checked according to genuine principles of law. Verlag der Wittwe Vandenhoeck, Göttingen 1774.
  • Adolph von Knigge : About the book reprint. To Mr. Johann Gottwerth Müller in Itzehoe. Benjamin Gottlob Hoffmann, Hamburg 1792.
  • August von Kotzebue : Memorandum on the reprint of books. At the same time petition to enforce a German Reich law against the same. Presented to the ambassadors of German states gathered at the Congress in Vienna on behalf of German booksellers. Kummer, Leipzig 1814.
  • Albrecht Götz von Olenhusen, Christa Gnirß: Handbook of Raubdrucke . Publishing house documentation, Pullach near Munich 1972, Raubdruck-Archiv, Freiburg im Breisgau 2002 (revised, supplemented and corrected barrel. On CD-ROM), ISBN 3-7940-3419-8 .
  • Hellmut Rosenfeld: Plagiarism and reprint . In: Archives for the history of the book industry. 11.1971, col. 337-372. ISSN  0066-6327
  • Olaf Simons: Marteau's Europe or the novel before it became literature. Amsterdam 2001, ISBN 90-420-1226-9 .
  • Let it bloom! In: Der Spiegel . No. 45 , 1969, p. 220-224 ( online ). Quote: “'There is no such thing as intellectual property,' decreed the literary producer postille Extra at the Frankfurt Book Fair , citing Horkheimer and Adorno. And the literary figures on the left concluded razor-sharp: 'Therefore: Organize one, two, many author and printer syndicates! Smash civil copyright! '"

Web links

Wiktionary: pirated printing  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations