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The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0342 Monday, 20 August 2012
Date: August 18, 2012 12:39:23 PM EDT
Subject: Dugdale Archive
Very briefly to answer Marcia Eppich-Harris’s question about F1 and copyright, authors did not usually hold copyright for their works in this period. From the charter granted to the Stationers’ Company by Mary I in 1557 until the first and second copyright acts of Anne in 1708/09, only freemen of the Stationers’ Company or their widows if they did not remarry could print, publish, and hold copyright in works in England. A very few authors were freemen of the Company and therefore could hold copyright but they did not hold it as authors but as stationers. Copyright was thought to be perpetual and to be real property and could be sold, transferred, subdivided, inherited, and the like but only amongst freemen of the Company. Authors or those who had control of texts sold them outright to Stationers and that was their only profit from their writing. Some few had private arrangements with Stationers which might involve some further payment (e.g., Milton with Paradise Lost) but no matter what this might be copyright still had to be held by a freeman of the Company. Thus, no one in the Shakespeare family, no matter how defined, stood to benefit in any way from F1 because of copyright.
William Proctor Williams