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Characters Before Copyright – The Rise and Regulation of Fan Fiction in Eighteenth-Century Germany - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Characters Before Copyright: The Rise and Regulation of Fan Fiction in Eighteenth-Century Germany

Matthew H. Birkhold


How did authors control the literary fates of fictional characters before the existence of copyright? Could a second author do anything with another author’s character? Situated between the decline of the privilege system and the rise of copyright, literary borrowing in eighteenth-century Germany has long been considered unregulated. This book tells a different story. Characters before Copyright documents the surprisingly widespread eighteenth-century practice of writing fan fiction—literary works written by readers who appropriate preexisting characters invented by other authors—and reconstru ... More

Keywords: fan fiction, intellectual property, customary norm, book history, German literature, eighteenth century book trade, collaborative authorship, Romantic author, moral rights

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2019 Print ISBN-13: 9780198831976
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2019 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198831976.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Matthew H. Birkhold, author
Assistant Professor of German, Assistant Professor of Law, The Ohio State University