1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Press Laws
PRESS LAWS, the laws concerning the licensing of books and the liberty of expression in all products of the printing-press, especially newspapers. The liberty of the press has always been regarded by modern political writers as of supreme importance. “Give me liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all other liberties,” says Milton in the Areopagitica.
At the present day the liberty of the press in English-speaking countries is a matter of merely historical importance. But this liberty was a plant of slow growth. Before the invention of printing the Church assumed the right to control the expression of all opinion distasteful to her. When the printing-press was invented German printers established themselves at various important centres of western Europe, where already numbers of copyists were employed in multiplying manuscripts. In 1473 Louis XI. granted letters patent (giving the right of printing and selling books) to “Uldaric Quéring” (Ulrich Gering), who three years earlier had set up a press in the Sorbonne (the theological faculty of the university at Paris), and before long Paris had more than fifty presses at work. The Church and universities soon found the output of books beyond their control. In 1496 Pope Alexander VI. began to be restive, and in 1501 he issued a bull against unlicensed printing, which introduced the principle of censorship. Between 1524 and 1548 the Imperial Diet in Germany drew up various stringent regulations; and in 1535 Francis I., in France, prohibited by edict, under penalty of death, the printing of books. This was too severe, however, and shortly afterwards the Sorbonne was given the right of deciding, a system which lasted to the Revolution.
In England the authority of parliament was invoked to aid the ecclesiastical authority. There is an ordinance as early as 1382, 5 Ric. II. st. 2, c. 5 (not assented to by the Commons, but appearing upon the parliament roll), directed against unlicensed preachers. After the invention of printing the ecclesiastical censorship was still asserted, but only as collateral with the censorial rights of the Crown, claimed by virtue of its general prerogative. After the Reformation the greater part of the rights of censorship passed to the Crown, which at the same time assumed the power of granting by letters patent the right of printing or selling books as a monopoly. The grant, if made to the author himself, was an equivalent of copyright; if made to a person other than the author, it seems to have always been subject to the author's copyright as it existed at common law.
Censorship was either restrictive or corrective, i.e. it interfered to restrict or prevent publication, or it enforced penalties after publication. Repression of free discussion was regarded as so necessary a part of government that Sir Thomas More in his Utopia makes it punishable with death for a private individual to criticize the conduct of the ruling power. Under Mary printing was confined to members of the Stationers' Company, founded by royal charter in 1556. Under Elizabeth the Star Chamber assumed the right to confine printing to London, Oxford and Cambridge, to limit the number of printers and presses, to prohibit all publications issued without proper licence, and to enter houses to search for unlicensed presses and publications (Order of 1585, Strype's Whitgift, app. 94). The search for unlicensed presses or publications was entrusted to an officer called the “messenger of the press.” In 1637 was issued an order of the Star Chamber forbidding the importation of books printed abroad to the scandal of religion or the Church or the government, and the printing of any book not first lawfully licensed. Law books were to be licensed by one of the chief justices or the chief baron, books of history and state affairs by one of the secretaries of state, of heraldry by the earl marshal, of divinity, philosophy, poetry and other subjects by the archbishop of Canterbury or the bishop of London, or the chancellors or vice-chancellors of the universities. There were to be only twenty master printers and four letter-founders. The punishment was at the discretion of the court (Rushworth, Historical Collections, vol. iii. app. 306). The same principle of press restriction was carried out by the Long Parliament after the abolition of the Star Chamber, and it was an ordinance of that body issued in 1643 that called forth Milton's Areopagitica, a Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing, itself an unlicensed book. The parliament appointed committees for printing, who appointed licensers, but the licensing was really left in a great measure to the wardens of the Stationers' Company. At the Restoration Sir John Birkenhead acted as licenser, appointed apparently under the general prerogative. It was, no doubt, too, under the general prerogative that Charles II., by a proclamation in 1660, called in and suppressed Milton's Defensio pro populo anglicano. Then followed the Licensing Act of 1662 (13 & 14 Car. II. c. 33), limited to two years. The provisions as to importation of books, the appointment of licensers, and the number of printers and founders were practically re-enactments of the similar provisions in the Star Chamber order of 1637. Printing presses were not to be set up without notice to the Stationers' Company. A king's messenger had power by warrant of the king or a secretary of state to enter and search for unlicensed presses and printing. Severe penalties by fine and imprisonment were denounced against offenders. The act was successively renewed up to 1679. Under the powers of the act Sir Roger L'Estrange was appointed licenser, and the effect of the supervision was that practically the newspaper press was reduced to the London Gazette. The objections made to lines 594-599 of the first book of Paradise Lost by the archbishop of Canterbury's chaplain, acting as licenser, are well known. The act expired in 1679, and for the remainder of the reign of Charles II., as in the reign of George III., the restrictions on the press took the form of prosecutions for libel. In 1685 the Licensing Act was renewed for seven years (1 Jac. II. c. 8, § 15). No mention of the liberty of the press was made in the Bill of Rights. On the expiration of the Licensing Act in 1692 it was continued till the end of the existing session of parliament (4 & 5 Will. and Mary, c. 24, § 14). In 1695 the Commons refused to renew it. The immediate effect of this was to lay authors open to the attacks of literary piracy, and in 1709 the first Copyright Act (8 Anne, c. 19) was enacted for their protection. The power of a secretary of state to issue a warrant, whether general or special, for the purpose of searching for and seizing the author of a libel or the libellous papers themselves—a power exercised by the Star Chamber and confirmed by the Licensing Act—was still asserted, and was not finally declared illegal until the case of Entick v. Carrington in 1765 (St. Tr. xix. 1030). In 1776 the House of Commons came to a resolution in accordance with this decision. The compulsory stamp duty on newspapers was abandoned in 1855 (18 Vict. c. 27), the duty on paper in 1861 (24 Vict. c. 20), the optional duty on newspapers in 1870 (33 & 34 Vict. c. 38). From that time the English press may be said to date its complete freedom, which rests rather upon a constitutional than a legal foundation. It is not confirmed by any provision of the supreme legislative authority, as is the case in many countries. A declaration in favour of the liberty of the press is usually a prominent feature in the written constitutions of foreign states.
The few existing restrictions on the liberty of the press are presumed to be imposed for the public benefit. They are in some cases of great historical interest. The rights of private persons are in general sufficiently protected in one direction by the law of Libel (q.v.), in another by the law of Copyright (q.v.), while the criminal law provides for the cases of press offences against morality, public justice, &c. Thus the courts have power to punish sumrnarily as a contempt the publication of comments upon proceedings sub judice
or reflections upon the conduct of judicial officers. (See Contempt of Court.) The last relic of the censorship before publication is to be found in the licensing of stage plays. By 6 & 7 Vict. c. 68 no new plays or additions to old plays can be acted for hire at any theatre in Great Britain until they have been submitted to the lord chamberlain, who may forbid any play or any part of a play. The penalty for acting a play before it has been allowed or after it has been disallowed is a sum not exceeding £50 for every offence and the forfeiture of the licence of the theatre in which the offence occurred. This jurisdiction is exercised by an official of the lord chamberlain's department called the “examiner of stage plays.” The last relic of the monopoly of printing formerly granted to licensees of the Crown is found in the exclusive right of the king's printer and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge to print the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer, and of the king's printer to print acts of parliament and other state documents. The privileges of the universities are confirmed by 13 Eliz. c. 29. The rights of the king's printer are protected by severe penalties. A maximum term of seven years' penal servitude is incurred by any person who prints any act of parliament or other government document, falsely purporting to be printed by the king's printer or under the authority of His Majesty's stationery office (8 & 9 Vict. c. 113; 45 Vict. c. 9). The rights of the printers of the journals of either house of parliament are protected by 8 & 9 Vict. c. 113. The publication of parliamentary debates in any form by any other persons than the printers of the journals of the two houses is still in theory a breach of privilege, but in practice they have been fully reported since 1771. The other restrictions upon the press are to a great extent those imposed for police purposes. By 32 & 33 Vict. c. 24 (confirming in part previous enactments applying to Great Britain) the printer of any paper or book for profit is required under penalties to print thereon his name and address or the name of a university press, and is to keep a copy of everything printed, with a few exceptions. Penalties must be sued for within three months, and no proceeding for penalties can be begun unless in the name of the attorney-general or solicitor general of England or the lord advocate of Scotland. By the Newspaper Libel and Registration Act 1881 (44 & 45 Vict. c. 60), which applies to England and Ireland, but not to Scotland, newspaper proprietors are, except in the case of joint-stock companies, to be registered and to make annual returns of the title of the newspaper and the names of all the proprietors, with their occupations, places of business and places of residence. By the Corrupt Practices Prevention Acts 1883 and 1884 (46 & 47 Vict. c. 51, § 18, and 47 & 48 Vict. c. 70, § 14), the name and address of the printer must be printed on all bills, placards, &c., referring to a parliamentary or municipal election. By 6 & 7 Vict. c. 68, § 7, the name and place of abode of a manager of a theatre are to be printed on every play-bill announcing a representation at such theatre. Offences against decency by the press are provided for by 20 & 21 Vict. c. 83; 25 & 26 Vict. c. 101, § 251 (for Scotland), and 2 & 3 Vict. c. 47, § 54 (for the metropolis). The importation of obscene literature into the United Kingdom is forbidden by 39 & 40 Vict. c. 36, § 42. By the Larceny Act 1861, any person who prints or publishes an advertisement offering a reward for the return of stolen goods without questions asked is subject to a penalty (24 & 25 Vict. c. 96, § 102). This penalty cannot, however, be sued for without the sanction of the attorney general or solicitor-general of England or Ireland (33 & 34 Vict. c. 65). The advertisement in the United Kingdom of foreign or illegal lotteries is prohibited by 6 & 7 Will. IV. c. 66, betting advertisements by 16 & 17 Vict. c. 119, § 7, and 37 Vict. c. 15.
The right of an author or publisher to the full profits of his undertaking was at one time restricted by the Copyright Act of Anne (8 Anne, c. 19, § 4), by which the archbishop of Canterbury and other authorities were empowered to lower the price of a book upon complaint that the price was unreasonable. The only restriction of the kind now existing is the obligation of delivering (without request) to the British Museum a copy of any work published within the United Kingdom, and of delivering (on request) copies for the use of the university libraries at Oxford and Cambridge, the library of the faculty of advocates at Edinburgh, and the library of Trinity College, Dublin (5 & 6 Vict. c. 45, §§ 6-10).
Scotland.—Printing became, as in England, a royal monopoly. The exclusive right of printing was granted by James IV. to Walter Chepman, who printed the first book in Scotland. The monopoly of printing acts of the Scottish parliament was granted by James V. to the printer chosen by the clerk register and specially licensed by the king (1540, c. 127). Printers are forbidden by 1551, c. 27, to print, whether in Latin or English, without licence from ordinaries deputed in that behalf by the Crown. No book treating of religion or of the kirk was to be printed without a licence from the general assembly (1646, c. 164), or of the kingdom without a licence from one of the judges or the secretary (c. 165). The council were empowered to prohibit presses at their discretion by the order of the 30th of March 1655. The importation of “famous” books and libels in defence of the pope was prohibited by 1581, c. 106. Press offences were treated with the utmost severity. By 1585, c. 1, the author of a libellous writing against the king was punishable with death. It is scarcely necessary to say that since the union the press of Scotland has enjoyed no less liberty than that of England. In the case of Bibles, Old and New Testaments, Psalm Books, the Book of Common Prayer, the Confession of Faith, and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms a licence for printing is still required. The licensing authority is the lord advocate, but all proposed publications are submitted for approval to the body officially known as “His Majesty's sole and only Master Printers in Scotland,” consisting of the lord advocate, the solicitor-general, the moderator of the general assembly, and four other members. A licence is also required for printing acts of parliament; but a general licence granted in 1848 to a firm of printers in Edinburgh is still operative, and their publications are not submitted for approval. As its work is practically confined to Bibles and the other religious publications enumerated, the above-mentioned body commonly receives the name of the Bible Board.
Ireland.—By the Prevention of Crime Act 1882 (45 & 46 Vict. c. 25), the lord-lieutenant was empowered to order the seizure of any newspaper appearing to contain matter inciting to the commission of treason or of any act of violence or intimidation (§ 13). He may also by warrant direct the search for and seizure of any papers or documents suspected to be used or to be intended to be used for the purpose of or in connexion with any secret society existing for criminal purposes (§ 14).
The British Dominions.—In the British colonies the press is as free as it is in England. Each colony has its special legislation on the subject for police and revenue purposes. Where there is a government printer, his monopoly is protected by the Documentary Evidence Act 1868 (31 & 32 Vict. c. 37), which imposes a maximum penalty of five years' penal servitude upon any person printing a copy of any proclamation, order, or regulation which falsely purports to have been printed b the government printer, or to be printed under the authority of, the legislature of any British colony or possession. The act is, however, subject to any law made by the colonial legislature.
India.—During the governor-generalship of Lord Lytton was passed the “Act for the better control of publications in Oriental languages,” Act ix. of 1878. (1) By this act copies of newspapers published out of British India were liable to forfeiture and seizure by warrant throughout the whole of British India if the papers contained any words, signs or visible representations likely to excite disaffection to the government established by law in British India, or antipathy between any persons of different races, castes, religions or sects in British India. The governor-general might by notification in the Gazette of India, exclude newspapers, books, &c., from British India. (2) In places to which the act was extended by order of the governor-general in council a magistrate might require the printer and publisher of a newspaper to enter into a bond, with a deposit, not to publish a newspaper containing “any words, signs,” &c. (as in 1), or to use or attempt to use it for the purpose of extortion or threat. The consequences of offending were forfeiture of the deposit, papers, press, &c. Books used for the illegal purposes above mentioned were subject to forfeiture, but no bond or deposit was required previous to publication of books, as in the case of newspapers.
This act, which remained in force until 1910, was found, owing principally to the restriction of its operation to newspapers published in the vernacular, to be ineffective in coping with the spread of news sheets exciting disaffection amongst the natives towards the government of India. It was consequently repealed and replaced by an act of February 1910, which applies to all newspapers published after the act. The deposit requiring to be made is now obligatory on all new printing-presses, whether issuing a newspaper or not, and independently of the deposit on the newspaper. The requirement of a formal bond has been abolished. There are provisions for forfeiture of the deposit and confiscation of the press on repetition of the offence. The 1910 act gives power to the authorities to open postal packets, other than letters, suspected of containing seditious matter, and requires the printer of a newspaper to deposit with the government two copies of each issue at the time of publication. It includes a long list of offences incitement to which is punishable under the act, and in giving power to stop a seditious newspaper after conviction, and in fixing responsibility on the actual printers of seditious matter, has considerably strengthened the power of the law.
Egypt.—The press is subject to a special law (The Press Law of 1881) and to certain articles of the penal code which define ress offences and prescribe penalties (both fine and imprisonment) for them. Owing to the capitulations, which are in force in Egypt as part of the Ottoman Empire, the penal code cannot be applied to foreign subjects, and its application had not (up to 1910) been found sufficient to repress abuses. The probable result of strengthening the law would be that conductors of native papers desirous of indulging in violent language or sedition would engage a foreign subject as nominal proprietor or editor and thereby escape local jurisdiction. The Press Law of 1881 is a more powerful instrument than the penal code, inasmuch as there are decisions of the mixed
tribunals that that law is, in principle, applicable to foreigners. By this law registration of newspapers is obligatory, and the government has power of control, defined in art. 13 as follows: “In the interests of public order, of religion or of morality, every newspaper or periodical can be suspended or suppressed by order of the minister of the interior after two warnings, or, without previous warning, by a decision of the council of ministers. Each warning may be accompanied by a fine of from, £E5 to £E20.” If a newspaper or periodical which has been suppressed continues to appear, the responsible parties can be fined, and the printing-press which issues the suppressed publication can be closed by order of the minister of the interior. The closure or seizure of the printing-press would, however, in the case of a foreigner require the co-operation of his consul.
This law was from about 1900 allowed to fall into disuse. Owing to the excesses of the Arabic newspapers the law was revived in the early part of 1909, but was applied with great moderation. During the year two native papers were warned and one was suppressed. The tribunals remained alone competent to inflict any penalty (apart from suppression and seizure of the printing-press) more severe than a fine of £E2O, and in 1909 under the penal code the editor of one native paper was sentenced to a year's imprisonment and the editor of another to three months' imprisonment. (See Sir Eldon Gorst's reports on Egypt for 1908 and 1909, specially Egypt No. 1, 1909, pp. 3-5.)
The United States.—The first constitutions of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and North Carolina, enacted in 1776, are interesting as containing the earliest declarations of any legislative authority in favour of the liberty of the press. The same principle was afterwards adopted in the constitution of the United States. The acts of Congress dealing with the press are not numerous, as each state has for the most part its own legislation on the subject, dealing generally with, among other matters, the registration of newspapers, the monopoly of the state printer, and the right of giving the truth in evidence in defence to proceedings for libel. The act of the 18th of August 1856 forbids diplomatic or consular officers of the United States to correspond with any foreign newspaper in regard to the affairs of a foreign state. The act of the 3rd of March 1873 prohibits the printing and circulation of obscene literature. Legislation by Congress has provided that all printing (unless otherwise ordered by law) for the Senate and House of Representatives and the executive and judicial departments, shall be done by the government printer.
Austria-Hungary.—In the Austrian Empire, which from 1804 to 1867 embraced Hungary also, the press laws under Metternich's régime were extremely severe. By the penal code of 1808 all printing had to be licensed, under heavy penalties, and in 1810 two censors were appointed. In short, the press had no shadow of liberty. During the revolution of 1848-1849 the principle of the freedom of the press was established, but the censorship was restored in 1852 and not abolished until 1863. The actual press laws of Austria are based on the press law of the 17th of December 1862 as modified by later supplementary enactments. In principle the freedom of the press was secured by art. 13 of the constitution of the 21st of December 1867. In practice, however, it was still restricted by the obligation on newspaper proprietors to deposit “caution money” (Kautionszwang) with the authorities, and the retention of the government stamp on newspapers. The caution money was abolished by a press law of the 9th of July 1894, and the stamp by that of the 27th of December 1899. The police, however, still have the right, either on their own initiative or under the instructions of the public prosecutor (Staatsanwalt), “provisionally” to confiscate printed matter which in their opinion offends against the terms of the press law or is contrary to the public interest. The public prosecutor has, within eight days, to justify this action in court, either by proceeding against those responsible for the publication, or by proving the published matter is offensive and ought to be suppressed. This latter “objective” procedure (objektives Verfahren) is peculiar to Austria and obviously places vast powers of control in the hands of the authorities. In 1902 the government introduced a bill greatly modifying these and other provisions of the press law in a liberal sense, but the bill was postponed to more urgent matters.
In Hungary the liberty of the press was secured by art. 18 of the constitution of 1848, which was restored in 1867. Under this the censorship was abolished; but, in addition to provision for the cases of libel, incitement to violence and crime, &c., the law also provided penalties for certain political press offences (§§ 6-8), i.e. attacks on the king or members of his family, incitements to (a) the dissolution of the territorial unity of the state or of the dynastic link with Austria; (b) the forcible alteration of the constitution; (c) disobedience to lawful authorities; (d) commission of crime. Press offences are tried by special jury courts. Under the Criminal Code of 1878 (§§ 170-174) further offences were made subject to penalty, including “direct incitement of one class of the population, one nationality or religious denomination to hatred of another,” instigation against the constitution and parliament, and glorification of any one who has suffered punishment for such offences. “Direct incitement” (§ 172), was subsequently interpreted by the Curia to mean “any spoken or written word . . . which is capable of producing in another hatred against a nationality, &c.”
The result of these provisions has been that liberty of the press has existed in practice only for the Magyars, constant prosecutions having been directed against the editors and proprietors of publications giving voice to the grievances of the other Hungarian races, conviction being all but inevitable owing to the special juries (due to the high property qualification) being almost exclusively composed of members of the dominant race.
In Transylvania, where the old stringent Austrian press law of 1852 is still in force, the public prosecutor has discretionary powers to confiscate obnoxious literature, powers freely used against the Rumanian press. (See R. W. Seton Watson, Racial Problems in Hungary, London, 1908, pp. 293 sqq.)
Belgium.—It was the prosecution of political writers by the Dutch government that directly led to the independence of Belgium in 1830. By the Belgian constitution of the 7th of February 1831, art. 18, it is declared that the press is free, that censorship shall never again be established, that sureties cannot be exacted from writers, editors or printers, and that when the author is known and domiciled in Belgium the printer or bookseller cannot be prosecuted. By art. 98 press offences are to be tried by jury. The penal law of the press is contained in the decree of the 20th of July 1831, made perpetual in 1833. By this law it is made an offence, apart from the penal code, (1) to incite to the commission of a crime by placards or printed writings in a public meeting; (2) to attack the obligatory force of the laws, or to incite to disobedience of them; (3) to attack the constitutional authority or inviolability of the king, the constitutional authority of the dynasty, or the authority and rights of the chambers. Every copy of a journal must bear the name of the printer and the indication of his domicile in Belgium. Proceedings for offences against the law must be taken in some cases within three months, in others within a year.
Denmark.—Press offences were at one time punished with great severity. By the code of Christian V. (1683) libel was punished with infamy and hard labour for life, and, if against a magistrate, with death. Censorship was abolished and the press declared free by art. 86 of the constitution granted by Frederick VII. on the 5th of June 1849 and confirmed by Christian IX. in 1866. Art. 81 forbids the search for or seizure of printed matter in a dwelling-house, unless after judicial proceedings.
France.—The government began early to impose stringent restrictions upon printing. An edict of Henry II. in 1559 made it punishable with death to print without authority. The university of Paris originally claimed the right of licensing new theological works, a jurisdiction vested in the Crown by an ordinance of 1566. Offences against religion were severely punished by the secular authorities. Thus the parliament of Toulouse sent Vanini to the stake in 1619 for the crime of publishing a heretical work. A few years later, in 1626, Cardinal Richelieu declared it a capital offence to publish a work against religion or the state. In 1723 appeared a regulation forbidding any but licensed booksellers to deal in books. Many later regulations were directed against unlicensed presses, the employment of more than a certain number of workmen, &c. At the Revolution all these restrictions were abolished, and the Assembly declared it to be the right of every citizen to print and publish his opinions. This new liberty quickly needed a check, which was attempted as early as 1791, but no effectual restraint was imposed until the law of the 5th of February 1810 established a direction of the press. The charter of Louis XVIII. in 1814 gave liberty to the press in express terms, but restrictions soon followed. In 1819 a system of sureties (cautionnements) replaced the censorship; The Revolution of 1830 was caused by, inter alia, one of the ordinances of St Cloud (July 25, 1830) for suspension of the liberty of the press. Restrictions on the liberty were removed for the time in 1830 and 1852, only to be succeeded as usual by the press laws of 1835 and 1852. During the Second Empire government prosecutions for libel were used as a powerful engine against the press. The proceedings against Montalembert in 1858 are a well-known instance. Between 1858 and 1866 many newspapers were suppressed by proclamation. With the republic liberty of the press was completely re-established. A decree of the 27th of October 1870 submitted press offences to trial by jury. The law of the 29th of July 1881, by which the French press is now regulated, begins by asserting the liberty of the press and of book selling. The principal limitations of this liberty are the prohibition to publish criminal proceedings before hearing in public, or lists of subscriptions for indemnifying an accused person, and the power of forbidding the entrance of foreign newspapers under certain circumstances. The order of responsibility for printed matter is (1) the manager or editor, (2) the author, (3) the printer, (4) the vender or distributor. The printer and the vender, however, can only be punished for acts not falling within their proper functions. Proceedings for breaches of the law must be taken within three months. As to taxation, the decree of the 5th of September 1870 abolished the stamp duty upon newspapers, but it is still imposed
upon public notices (affiches) other than those of public authorities. None but the notices of public authorities may be printed on white paper.
Germany.—Censorship was introduced by the diet of Spires in 1529. From that time till 1848 there were numerous restrictions on the liberty of the press. One of the most important was a resolution of the diet of the German confederation, passed on the 20th of September 1819 as a sequel to the Carlsbad decrees (q.v.), by which newspapers were subject to licence and police supervision in each state. Liberty dates, as in Austria and Italy, from 1848. Soon after that year, however, it became necessary to establish press laws in most of the German states, as in Bavaria in 1850, Prussia and Baden in 1851. Since the establishment of the new empire censorship has disappeared. By art. 74 of the constitution of the empire (1871) every one attacking the empire or its officers through the press is liable to punishment in his own state. By art. 4 the laws relating to the press are under imperial and not local control. The press law of the 7th of May 1874 is therefore in force throughout the whole empire. At its beginning it affirms the liberty of the press. Its main provisions are these: The name and address of the printer must appear on all printed matter. Newspapers and periodicals must in addition bear the name of some one person, domiciled in the empire, as responsible editor, and a copy of every number must be deposited with the police authorities of the district in which it is published. Foreign periodicals may be excluded by proclamation of the Imperial chancellor for two years, if twice within the year they have been guilty of certain offences against the penal code. Criminal proceedings are not to be reported while still sub judice. The order of responsibility for offences is the same as in France. Proceedings must be taken within six months. In certain cases printed matter may be seized without the order of a court. This may take place where (1) the publication does not bear the name of printer or editor, (2) military secrets are revealed in time of war, (3) justice would be defeated by the publication not being immediately seized. A judicial tribunal is to decide at once upon the legality of the seizure. The press law is not to affect regulations made in time of war or internal disturbance. A temporary law passed in 1878 gave the police large powers in the case of socialistic publications. Only offences involving heavy penalties are tried by jury. The proposal of the Reichstag that all press offences should be so tried was rejected by the governments, except as regards those states (Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden, Oldenburg) where this principle was already in force.
Greece.—Under King Otto censorship was exercised up to 1844. By the constitution of the 18th of March 1844 every one may publish his thoughts by means of the press, observing the laws of the state. The press is free, and censorship (λογοκρισία) is not permitted. Responsible editors, publishers and printers of newspapers are not required to deposit money on the ground of surety. Publishers of newspapers must be Greek citizens (art. 10). The legislature may exclude reporters from its sittings in certain cases (art. 48). Press offences are to be tried by jury, except when they deal only with private life (art. 93).
Holland.—The press has been free since the existence of the present kingdom of the Netherlands, which dates from 1815. Liberty of the press is expressly secured by art. 8 of the constitution of 1848. By art. 286 of the penal code seditious books and newspapers may be seized. By art. 283 of the same code and by a royal decree of the 25th of January 1814 the name of the printer must appear upon newspapers. Press offences are not tried by jury.
Italy.—By art. 27 of the political code of Sardinia, granted by Charles Albert on the 4th of March 1848, and still in force, the press is free, but abuses of the liberty are restrained by law. The present press law of Italy is contained in the law of the 26th of March 1848, as altered by later enactments. Everything printed in typographical characters, or by lithography or any similar means, must indicate the place and the date of printing and the name of the printer. A copy of everything printed must be deposited with certain officials and at certain libraries. Before the publication of any newspaper or periodical, notice of the intended publication must be given at the office of the secretary of state or internal affairs. The notice must contain (1) a declaration of the legal qualification of the person intending to publish, whether as proprietor or editor, (2) the nature of the publication, and (3) the name and residence of the responsible editor. Every newspaper is bound to insert gratuitously a contradiction or explanation of any charge made against a person in its columns. For contravention of these and other regulations there is a statutory penalty not exceeding 1000 lire (£40). The publication of a newspaper may be suspended until the payment of a fine. The publication of parliamentary debates is permitted. Press offences are tried by a jury of twelve. By a law of the 11th of May 1877 it is forbidden to publish any indication of the way in which individual judges or jurors voted in their deliberations.
Norway.—The liberty of the press is secured by art. 100 of the constitution of 1814. No one can be punished for any writing unless he, or some one by his instigation, offend against the state, law, religion or decency, or make infamous accusations against any one. Criticism of the government is expressly permitted.
Ottoman Empire.—By art. 12 of the constitution of the 23rd of December 1876 the press was recognized as free, subject to the limits imposed by law. The constitution was, however, “suspended,” and a rigorous censorship was enforced, under the direction of Sultan Abd-ul-Hamid II., until the revolution of 1908.
Portugal.—It is stated by Braga and others that a free press existed up to the establishment of the Inquisition, and that Gil Vicente (d. 1536) was the last writer who dared to express his thoughts freely. At a later period Bocage was imprisoned for writings displeasing to the authorities. Boards of censorship under the names of the “Real mesa censoria,” or the “Mesa do desembargo do pago,” assumed to license publications. Liberty of the press was, however, finally secured, and censorship limited, by art. 7 of the constitution granted by John VI. in 1821. By art. 8 a special tribunal was constituted in both Portugal and Brazil to protect the liberty of printing. The censorship was confined to that exercised by the bishops over theological or dogmatic works. The debates in the legislature and proceedings in the courts of justice are not generally reported.
Rumania.—By the constitution of the 30th of June 1866, art. 5, Rumanians enjoy liberty of the press. By art. 24 the constitution guarantees to all the liberty of communicating and publishing ideas through the press, every one being liable for abuse in cases determined by the penal code. Press offences are to be tried by jury. Censorship is abolished, and is never to be re-established. No previous authorization is necessary for the publication of newspapers. No sureties are to be demanded from journalists, writers, editors or printers. The press is not to be subjected to regulation of advertisements. No newspaper or publication is to be suspended or suppressed. Every author is responsible for his writings; in default of the author, the manager or editor is responsible. Every newspaper must have a responsible manager in the possession of civil and political rights.
Russia.—The position of the Russian press generally was, previously to the revolution of 1905, regulated by a law of the 6th of April 1865. The effect of that law was to exempt from preventive censorship (if published in St Petersburg or Moscow) all newspapers, periodicals and original works and translations not exceeding a certain number of pages, and (wherever published) all government publications, matter printed by academies, universities and scientific bodies, and maps, plans, and charts. Everything printed and published that did not fall within any of these categories had, before issue to the public, to be submitted for the approval of government censors stationed in different parts of the empire. The minister of the interior had power to dispense with the preventive censorship in the case of provincial newspapers and periodicals. In St Petersburg and Moscow the periodical press was subject to corrective censorship for infringement of the numerous restrictive regulations contained in the code, and supplemented at times by secret instructions from the minister of the interior to editors and publishers. Apart from the code, the sustained display of a spirit hostile to the government rendered the publisher of a periodical liable to punishment. The penalties established by the law of 1865 for offences against the press regulations consisted in the infliction of a series of warnings published in the Official Gazette. A first warning merely enjoined more care for the future; a second was followed by suspension for a certain period, sometimes by a prohibition to insert advertisements; a third by suppression, and perhaps prosecution of the offending conductor. By Imperial ukaz of the 2nd of June 1872 the jurisdiction of the judicial tribunals over press offences was practically transferred to the minister of the interior, except in the case of violation of private rights, as by libel. The law of 1865 was modified in 1874 by a regulation to the effect that all publications appearing at longer intervals than one week should be submitted to the central board of censors. This applied to all periodicals that had been formerly published without preventive censorship. By a ukaz issued in 1881 a committee of four members was entrusted with the decision of all matters relating to the press submitted to it by the minister of the interior. The strictest supervision was exercised over the foreign press, periodical and otherwise. None but a few privileged individuals, such as members of the royal family, foreign diplomatists, and editors of newspapers in the capital, might receive foreign publications free of censorship. The censorship consisted in blackening out, and sometimes in the excision, of whole columns and sheets of publications that might be deemed pernicious. Only such periodicals as were placed on a list approved by the board of censors were allowed to be received through the post office by non-privileged persons. Telegraphic messages to newspapers were subject to strict censorship. The Russian telegraphic press agency is under official management.
Full liberty of the press was guaranteed by the Imperial ukaz of the 17th of October 1905, and though no special legislation followed the censorship was for a time de facto abolished. With the progress of the reaction, however, the old conditions were to a certain extent re-established. In St Petersburg, for instance, the newspapers were in 1909 again under the absolute jurisdiction of chief of police and were forbidden to publish any reference to members of the Imperial family or to the affairs of Poland (except official notices). In 1908 as many as 73 newspapers and periodicals were suppressed, of which 28 were in St Petersburg alone.
Spain.—There was probably no country where restrictions on the liberty of the press were at one time more stringent than in Spain. From the first use of printing up to 1521 censorship was exercised by the Crown; after that date the Inquisition began to assume the right, and continued to do so up to its suppression in 1808. In 1558 Philip II. denounced the penalty of death against even the possessor of a book upon the Index expurgatorius of the Inquisition. Some of the greatest names in Spanish literature were sufferers: Castillejo, Mendoza, Mariana and Quevedo incurred the displeasure of the Inquisition; Luis Ponce de Leon was imprisoned for his translation of the Song of Solomon. The last Index appeared in 1790. In 1812 the constitution promulgated by the regency in the name of Ferdinand VII. provided by art. 371 that all Spaniards should have liberty to write, print and publish their political ideas without any necessity for licence, examination or approbation previous to publication, subject to the restrictions imposed by law. Art. 13 of the constitution of the 30th of June 1876, promulgated on the accession of Alphonso XII., practically re-enacts this provision.
Sweden.—The press law of the 16th of July 1812 is one of the fundamental laws of Sweden. It is an expansion of art. 86 of the constitution of the 6th of June 1809. Liberty of the press is declared to be the privilege of every Swede, subject to prosecution for libellous writing. Privileges of individuals as to publication are abolished. The title and place of publication of every newspaper or periodical must be registered, and every publication must bear the name of the printer and the place of printing. Press offences are tried by a jury of nine, chosen respectively by the prosecutor, the prisoner, and the court. The verdict of two-thirds of the jury is final.
Switzerland.—Liberty of the press is secured by art. 45 of the constitution of 1848, re-enacted by art. 55 of the constitution of the 29th of May 1874. Each canton has its own laws for the repression of abuse of the liberty, subject to the approbation of the federal council. The confederation can impose penalties on libels directed against itself or its officers.
- The principle of the censorship is still uncompromisingly maintained by the Roman Catholic Church; and this, though in general binding only in foro conscientiae, has necessarily had considerable importance in states which recognize the papacy as an independent power relations with which are established by concordat. Thus in Italy, under the Sardinian constitution of 1848, Bibles, catechisms and liturgical words had to be licensed by the bishop. The principle of the censorship, consecrated anew in Pope Pius IX.'s Syllabus of 1864, was reaffirmed in the apostolic constitution Officiorum of Leo XIII. and in 1907 in the encyclical Pascendi of Pius X. This last expresses “the highest esteem for this institution of censors” and orders censors to be appointed in all episcopal curias for the revision of books intended for publication, at the same time directing that their names shall not be made known to the authors of the books condemned. (See also Index Librorum Prohibitorum.)
- The monopoly of the king's printer does not extend to any translation other than the Authorized Version, and not to that if it be accompanied by new notes or marginal readings.
- See Dalloz, Jurisprudence générale, s.v. “Presse”; ibid. Titles alphabétiques (1845-1877), s.v. “ Presse.”
- See Ticknor, Hist. of Span. Lit. i. 422 seq., iii. 366.