1902 Encyclopedia > Press Laws

Press Laws




PRESS LAWS. The liberty of the press has always been regarded by modern political writers as a matter 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 (with perhaps the single exception of Ireland) a matter of merely historical importance. The liberty was a plant of slow growth. Before the invention of printing the church assumed to control the expression of all opinion distasteful to her. (See BIBLIOGRAPHY, vol. iii. pp. 658, 659, INDEX LIBRORUM PROHIBITORUM, INQUISITION.) The authority of parliament was invoked in England 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 grant-ing 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, the great censorial authority of the Tudor period, 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." The Stuart kings followed the example of their predecessors. Thus in 1637 was issued a stringent 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-chan-cellors 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 ordi-nance 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 Papulo Anglicano. Then followed the Licensing Act of 1662 (13 and 14 Car. II. c. 33), limited to two years. Ther 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 success-ively 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. (See NEWSPAPERS, vol. xvii. pp. 414, 415.) 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. The twelve judges resolved in 1680 "that all persons that do write or print or sell any pamphlet that is either scandalous to public or private persons, such books may be seized and the person punished by law; that all books which are scandalous to the Government may be seized, and all persons so exposing them may be punished. And further, that all writers of news, though not scan-dalous, seditious, nor reflective upon the Government or the state, yet, if they are writers (as there are few else) of false news, they are indictable and punishable upon that account" (Harris’s case, State Trials, vii. 929). 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 and 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 con-firmed by the Licensing Act—was still asserted, and was not finally declared illegal until the case of Entick v. Carrington in 1765 (State Trials, xix. 1030). In 1776 the House of Commons came to a resolution in accordance with this decision. The compulsory stamp duty on news-papers 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 and 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. Its legal aspect in England cannot be better expressed than in the words of Lord Wynford:—

"My opinion of the liberty of the press is that every man ought be permitted to instruct his fellow-subjects ; that every man may fearlessly advance any new doctrines, provided he does so with proper respect to the religion [Footnote 711-1] and government of the country; that he may point out errors in the measures of public men, but he must not impute criminal conduct to them. The liberty of the press cannot be carried to this extent without violating another equally sacred right, the right of character. This right can only be attacked in a court of justice, where the party attacked has a fair opportunity of defending himself. Where vituperation begins, the liberty of the press ends" (Rex v. Burdett, Barnewall and Alderson’s Reports, iv. 132).





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 summarily as a contempt the publication of comments upon proceedings sub judice or reflexions 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 and 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 print-ing formerly granted to licensees of the crown is found in the exclusive right of the queen’s printer and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge to print the Bible [Footnote 711-2] and the Book of Common Prayer, and of the queen’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 queen’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 queen’s printer or under the authority of Her Majesty’s stationery office (8 and 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 and 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 and 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 commenced 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 and 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 and 47 Vict. c. 51, s. 18, and 47 and 48 Vict. c. 70, s. 14), the name and address of the printer must be printed on all bills, placards, &c., referring to a parliamentary or muni-cipal election. By 6 and 7 Vict. c. 68, s. 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 and 21 Vict. c. 83, 25 and 26 Vict. c. 101, s. 251 (for Scotland), and 2 and 3 Vict. c. 47, s. 54 (for the metropolis). The importation of obscene literature into the United Kingdom is forbidden by 39 and 40 Vict. c. 36, s. 42. By the Larceny Act, 1861, any person who prints or publishes an advertisement offering a reward for the return of stolen goods with-out questions asked is subject to a penalty (24 and 25 Vict. c. 96, s. 102). This penalty cannot, however, be sued for without the sanction of the attorney-general or solicitor-general of England or Ireland (33 and 34 Vict. c. 65). The advertisement in the United Kingdom of foreign or illegal lotteries is prohibited by 6 and 7 Will. IV. c. 66 , betting advertisements by 16 and 17 Vict. c. 119, s. 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 Cbpy-right Act of Anne (8 Anne, c. 19, s. 4), by which the arch-bishop 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 and 6 Vict. c. 45, ss. 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 (e. 165). The council were empowered to prohibit presses at their discretion by the order of 30th 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 neces-sary 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 sub-mitted for approval to the body officially known as "Her Majesty’s sole and only Master Printers in Scotland," con-sisting of the lord advocate, the solicitor-general, the moderator of the general assembly, and four other mem-bers. A licence is also required for printing Acts of parlia-ment; but a general licence granted in 1848 to a firm of printers in Edinburgh is still operative, and their publi-cations are not submitted for approval. As its work is practically oonfined to Bibles and the other religious publi-cations enumerated, the above-mentioned body commonly receives the name of the Bible Board,

Ireland.—This is the only part of the United Kingdom in which the press cannot be said to be free. The policy of successive Governments has generally been in favour of restrictions. By the Prevention of Crime Act, 1882 (45 and 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 war-rant 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).


United States.

The constitutions of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and North Carolina, all 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. By art. i. of the amended constitution, "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech or of the press." Art. iv. secures against warrants for the seizure of papers, except on probable cause supported by oath or affirmation and particularly describing the thing to be seized. The constitution of Louisiana is that in which the right of liberty of the press is declared with the greatest minuteness. By art. vi. s. 21 of the constitution of that State, "Printing presses shall be free to every person who undertakes to examine the proceedings of the legislature or any branch of the government, and no law shall ever be made to restrain the right thereof. The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the invaluable rights of man, and every citizen may freely speak, write, and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty." 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 18th August 1856 forbids diplomatic or consular officers of the United States to correspond with any foreign news-paper in regard to the affairs of a foreign state. The Act of 3d March 1873 prohibits the printing and circulation of obscene literature. By the Act of 23d June 1860 the congressional printer has, except where otherwise provided by law, the monopoly of printing for the Senate or House of Representatives and the executive and judicial depart-ments. State prosecutions for seditious libel were not infrequent in the early years of the republic; examples will be found in Wharton’s State Trials.






Press Laws in the British Colonies and India.

Colonies.—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 and 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 pur-ports to have been printed by 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 are liable to forfeiture and seizure by warrant throughout the whole of British India if the papers "contain 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 may, by noti-fication in the Gazette of India, exclude newspapers, books, &c., from British India. (2) In places to which the Act is extended by order of the governor-general in council, a magistrate may 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 cousequences of offending are forfeiture of the deposit, papers, press, &c. Books used for the illegal purposes above-mentioned are subject to forfeiture, but no bond or deposit is required previous to publication of books, as in the case of newspapers.


Foreign Press Laws.

Liberty of the press is the rule in most European states. This liberty is in almost every case secured by a constitution or organic law, the earliest being those of Sweden and Spain in 1812. In some states there is a tax upon newspapers and advertisements ; in others, as in Sweden and Norway, there is none. In most states there is a Government official newspaper, and a Government printer, enjoying peculiar privileges. [Footnote 712-1]

Austria-Hungary.—Restraints upon the press were formerly very stringent, especially in the Italian provinces. Severe penalties against unlicensed printing were denounced by the penal code of 1808. For a second offence the offender was forbidden to deal in books. Private printing presses were forbidden under a fine of 500 florins. Inciting to emigration was one of the most remarkable press offences contained in this code. Two censors of the press were appointed in 1810. Booksellers were put under police supervision in Hungary in 1847. In 1848 the press became free for a time, until a restrictive law was again imposed in 1852. Strict censorship ceased in 1863. By the fundamental law concerning the rights of citizens, 21st December 1867, art. 13, every one has the right of freely expressing his thoughts by the press within the limits imposed by law. The press cannot be controlled by censorship, or restrained by the system of authorization. Administrative and postal inter-diction is never to extend to matters printed in the realm. By the law of the same date on judicial authority, art. 11, press offences are to be tried by jury. The constitution of 1867 (on the basis of that proposed in 1848) secures liberty of the press in Hungary.

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 7th 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 domi-ciled 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 20th 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 constitu-tional 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.

Brazil.—By art. 179 of the constitution of 1824 every one is entitled to express his thoughts by words and writings and publish them in print without liability to censure, but he is answerable for abuses committed in the exercise of this right.

(In most, if not all, of the Central and South American republics liberty of the press is one of the rights secured by the constitution. Thus in Chili it is secured by the constitution of 1833, in the Argentine Republic by that of 1860.)

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 5th June 1849, and confirmed by Christian IX. in 1866. Art. 81 for-bids 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 5th 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 (25th July 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 Govern-ment 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 27th October 1870 submitted press offences to trial by jury. [Footnote 713-1] The law of 29th July 1881, by which the French press is now regulated, begins by asserting the liberty of the press and of bookselling. The principal limitations of this liberty are the prohibition to publish crimimal 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 (see vol. xvii. p. 427). The order of responsibility for printed matter is (1) the manager or editor, (2) the author, (3) the printer, (4) the vendor or distritutor. Proceedings for breaches of the law must be taken within three months. As to taxation, the decree of 5th 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 20th September 1819, 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 dis-appeared. 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 relat-ing to the press are under imperial and not local control. The press law of 7th 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.

Greece.—The constitution of Epidaurus, 1st January 1822, did not specially mention, though no doubt it implied, liberty of the press. Under Otho censorship was exercised up to 1844. By the constitution of 18th 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 (GREEK) 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 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 25th January 1814 the name of the printer must appear upon newspapers. Press offences are not tried by jury.

Italy.—The strict licensing of the press in Italy excited the derision of Milton. In the Arepagitica he gives examples of the licences of that period which were usually imprinted at the beginning of a book. The laws of the different states varied in severity. Thus it was a matter of complaint against Venice by Paul V. that she allowed the publication of works censured at Rome. The power of the church is seen in the fate of Bruno and Galileo. By art. 27 of the political code of Sardinia, granted by Charles Albert on 4th March 1848, and still in force, the press is free, but abuses of the liberty are restrained by law. Bibles, catechisms, and liturgical works must be licensed by the bishop. The present press law of Italy is contained in the law of 26th 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 for 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 11th May 1877 it is forbidden to publish any indication of the way in which individual judges or jurors voted in their deliberations.

Mexico.—A board or "junta" of censors existed during the Spanish dominion. The fundamental law of Mexico is now the constitution of 1857, as amended by subsequent additions. By art. 6 the expression of ideas cannot be the object of any judicial or administrative inquiry, unless in case of attacks on morality, public order, &c. By art. 7 the liberty of writing and publishing writings on any subject is inviolable. Censorship is abolished, and press offences are to be tried by one jury which testifies the act and another which applies the law and defines the penalty.

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 23d December 1876 the press was recognized as free, snbjeet to the limits imposed by law. Press laws had been previously enacted on 5th March 1865 and 12th March 1867.

Portugal.—It is stated by Braga and others that a free press existed up to the establishment of the Inquisition, and that Gil Vicente (died 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 Paço," 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.

Roumania.—By the constitution of 30th June 1866, art. 5, Roumanians 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 ad-vertisements. 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 news-paper must have a responsible manager in the possession of civil and political rights.

Russia.—The position of the Russian press generally is regulated by a law of 6th April 1865. The effect of that law is 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 does not fall within any of these categories must, before issue to the public, be submitted for the approval of Government censors stationed in different parts of the empire. The minister of the interior has power to dispense with the preventive censorship in the case of provincial newspapers and periodicals. In St Petersburg and Moscow the periodical press is 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. It should be observed that, apart from the code, the sustained display of a spirit hostile to the Govern-ment renders the publisher of a periodical liable to punishment. The penalties established by the law of 1865 for offences against the press regulations consist in the infliction of a series of warnings published in the Official Gazette. A first warning merely enjoins more care for the future; a second is 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 ukase of 2d 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 is applied to all periodicals that had been formerly published without preventive censorship. By a ukase issued in 1881 a committee of four members is entrusted with the decision of all matters relating to the press submitted to it by the minister of the interior. The strictest supervision is 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, may receive foreign publications free of censorship. The censorship consists in blackening out, and sometimes in the excision, of whole columns and sheets of publications that may be deemed pernicious. Only such periodicals as are placed on a list approved by the board of censors are allowed to be received through the post-office by non-privileged persons. Telegraphic messages to newspapers are subject to strict censorship. The Russian telegraphic press agency is entirely under official management.

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. [Footnote 714-1] 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 pre-vious to publication, subject to the restrictions imposed by law. Art. 13 of the constitution of 30th June 1876, promulgated on the accession of Alphonso XII., practically re-enacts this provision.

Sweden.—The press law of 16th July 1812 is one of the funda-mental laws of Sweden. It is an expansion of art. 86 of the con-stitution of 6th 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 29th May 1874. Each canton has its own laws for the repression ot 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. (J.W†.)


Footnotes

711-1 This is to be read subject to the remark of Lord Coleridge that the application of the principles of law is to be changed with the changing circumstances of the time (Reg. v. Ramsay, in Cox’s Criminal Cases, xv. 235). What was blasphemous in law a hundred years ago is not necessarily so now.

711-2 The monopoly of the queen’s printer does not extend to any trans-lation other than the authorized version, and not to that if it be accompanied by new notes or marginal readings.

712-1 The writer wishes to take this opportunity of acknowledging the assistance rendered him by representatives of several foreign Govern-ments.

713-1 See Dalloz, Jurisprudeme Générale, s.v. "Presse"; Id., Titles Alphabétiques, 1845-77, s.v. "Presse."


714-1 See Ticknor, Hist. of Span. Lit., vol. i. p. 422 sq, vol. iii. p. 366.



The above article was written by: James Williams, B.C.L.



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