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Dürer and Intellectual Property
Articles | 07 DIC 2023 Por Valeria Correa

For centuries, artists did not sign their works nor were they recognized by them, but this began to change in the Renaissance. In the 16th century it was still strange to sign the works, but the style of each master speaks for itself and their names became more and more known.


The German artist, Albert Dürer, was one of those artists who made a difference, not only standing out among his contemporaries throughout the continent, but also for the fact that he did sign his works. In these, he made sure to put an "AD" representing his initials, with a design that he himself made in order to mark his works.

However, with fame, the imitators also appear and Dürer had one. It was not strange at that time that artists made reproductions of the works of others, but the distribution of these reproductions as if they were original was something that the German could not let pass. Not only were copies of his work, his signature was also copied and appeared on each copy that was sold at much lower prices than the original works of Dürer.


His resolution was to bring his imitator, Marcantonio Raimondi, to trial. The confrontation took place in the Venice Senate in 1511 and in current terms, it turned out to be a trial for intellectual property.

Raimondi sold works by Dürer that were also signed, so people could not distinguish which ones were his and which were not. Obviously, this affected the German's career to some extent and with those arguments, he won the trial. Finally, the resolution was that Raimondi could not continue to use Dürer's distinctive mark - or the signature - to sell works, but replicas were allowed. The German artist was satisfied with this since his original works would be identifiable again.


The vision that Dürer had to identify the importance of his name, his signature and his intellectual property does not cease to surprise us today, because he knew how to take action to protect his work at a time when signatures were rare and the concepts of "intellectual property" or "copyright" had never been discussed, much less had rules had been made to legislate them.

Currently it is difficult to imagine the magnitude of the chaos that would be without copyright and intellectual property rules, especially since we could consider plagiarism as old as creativity itself.


Source: ars Magazine

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