Reading Legal Documents


Unpacking a Generic Copyright Protection Order in Early Twentieth Century China
Fei‐Hsien  Wang
Centre  for  History  and  Economics  and  Magdalene  College,  Cambridge  University

This is a proclamation issued by a Qing local official named Yuan Shuxun (袁樹勛, 1847-1915) to Xiaoshuo lin (小說林, Fiction Forest), a Shanghai-based Chinese publishing company, in 1905. In this order, Yuan, who was the Daotai (道台, circuit intendant) of the Suzhou, Songjian, and Taicang region at the time, acknowledged Fiction Forest's copyright of its Chinese translations of the Holmes series and prohibited others reprinting these books for profit. It was reproduced by Fiction Forest in every copy of books it published to announce that the copyright of its publications were now acknowledged and protected by local authorities. It is one of the hundreds of generic orders Qing officials granted to Chinese and foreign publishers who petitioned for copyright protection before a formal copyright law coming into being in China. Read more »