Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date

2017

Center/Program

European Legal Studies Center

Center/Program

Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts

Abstract

This Essay examines Florentine painter and engraver Antonio Tempesta’s 1593 petition for a Papal printing privilege on his great bird’s-eye view Map of Rome. The arguments Tempesta made in support of his request for the exclusive rights to print, sell and control variations on his map evoke justifications spanning the full range of modern intellectual property rhetoric, from fear of unscrupulous competitors, to author-centric rationales. Invocations of labor and investment and unfair competition-based justifications were familiar – indeed ubiquitous – in Tempesta’s time, and still echo today. Long before the 1710 British Statute of Anne (vesting exclusive rights in authors), the precursor regime of printing privileges had well understood printing monopolies to be incentives to intellectual and financial investment. The pre-copyright system thus firmly established one of the philosophical pillars of modern copyright law. Tempesta’s petition, however, goes further than its antecedents with respect to the second pillar of modern copyright law, the natural rights of the author, a rationale that roots exclusive rights in personal creativity. Tempesta focused the rights on the creator, and equated creativity with his personal honor, thus foreshadowing a moral rights conception of copyright.

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