Did copyrights exist in Lope´s time?


No, at the time there were no intellectual property rights, the copyright. The authors or publishers were thus exposed to the fact that their works could be published at any moment by another publisher. The only tools for preventing this were the printing license and the exclusive that the King solicited called the "exclusive edition," that was granted for a number of years in certain geographic areas.

If there existed the royal exclusive for a work, legally nobody could publish it. The monarch could grant this to the author and also to the publisher or bookseller, and both could publish the work at their own cost or concede the exclusives to someone else who wanted to buy it.

Both the 'exclusive' granted to the author as well as the cession of the publisher figured in the preliminaries of the books, as well as the erratum where a list of possible printing errors is published. Other requirements were the 'approval,' as the church's go ahead, that is to say, the religious censure, and lastly, the ´tax´ which described in detail the price of the book. Only the traders and traffickers of wealthy business, noblemen and other members of the upper class could buy books, a true object of luxury for the vast majority of Spaniards.

In the case of the comedies (general name used for theatrical works or plays, they could be comedies or tragedies), the authors wrote the work to be performed. Later, the text in some cases was printed and generally appeared in a compilation of twelve works, which was called a 'parte,' as a unit or part of several volumes. These compilations could be by the same author, or by several authors.

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