Best Copyright Notice Ever?

This one’s made the rounds before, but I just came across it again and it’s just too good not to share. The great German artist, Albrecht Dürer, was fortunate enough to be very popular during his own lifetime. But, unfortunately, this led to other artists passing off fakes of his works. Fed up with the scoundrels, Dürer included the following notice in Latin in the tailpiece of some of his bound editions:

Heus tu insidiator ac alieni laboris et ingenii surreptor ne manu temerarias his nostris operibus incias, cave: Scias enim a gloriosissimo Romanorum impera-tore. Maximiliano nobis concessum esse: ne quis suppositiciis formis has imagines imprimere seu impressas per imperii limites vendere audeatque si per contemptum seu avarice crimen secus feceris post bonorum confiscationem tibi maximum periculum subeundum esse certissime scias.1

If your Latin’s a bit rusty, Bill Patry provides the following translation in his copyright treatise:

Hold! You crafty ones, strangers to work, and pilferers of other men’s brains. Think not rashly to lay your thievish hands upon my works. Beware! Know you not that I have a grant from the most glorious Emperor Maximillian, that not one throughout the imperial dominion shall be allowed to print or sell fictitious imitations of these engravings? Listen! And bear in mind that if you do so, through spite or through covetousness, not only will your goods be confiscated, but your bodies also placed in mortal danger.2

Yikes! Though, I do suspect Dürer’s overclaiming things a bit.

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© 2013 Devlin Hartline. Licensed under the Law Theories Public License 1.0.

  1. 1 Patry on Copyright § 1:2. 
  2. Id