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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: September ::
Re: The Transfer of 'copy rights' in the Stationers
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1834  Wednesday, 4 September 2002

From:           Brian Willis <
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 >
Date:           Tuesday, 3 Sep 2002 11:40:07 -0700 (PDT)
Subject:        Re: The Transfer of 'copy rights' in the Stationers' Register.

>I was wondering whether anyone could broaden my
>knowledge on the
>practice of the transfer of publishing rights to
>'play bookes' in the
>Stationers' Register from the 1590s and onwards. How
>often is a playbook
>published/printed by the initial authority listed in
>the SR, and how
>often do rights get transferred onto other
>printer/publishers.  I know
>the well-respected printer Roberts is a case in hand
>with the
>Chamberlain's/King's Men. I believe he initially
>entered Hamlet, but Q1
>was published by Simmes for Ling and Trundell.

I'm not sure if rights were transferred or stolen (stol'n and
surreptitious copies), but Roberts did indeed publish Q2 of Hamlet. Did
he authorize Q1?  Probably not, since Q2 proclaims itself a correction
of a previously erroneous edition.

I thought that once someone entered a play in the Stationer's Register
that they had the right to do whatever they wanted print-wise with the
play. If someone wanted to print the play, they had to approach the
person with the rights. Of course, this didn't stop people from trying.
Are there any recorded cases of prosecution of violated rights?

Again, Blayney's article in Cox and Kastan is useful (as is the entire
volume itself), as is Gary Taylor's comprehensive overview in the
Introduction to the Oxford Textual Companion.

Brian Willis

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