The Transatlantic Mobilisation of Men of Letters for Copyrights in Brazil, 1851–1898

Intellectual Mobilisations in Latin America
By Sébastien Rozeaux

In the second half of the nineteenth century, the circulation of cultural goods between Brazil and Europe reached entirely new proportions. This coincided with a demand for better regulation of these exchanges in order to tackle literary piracy. In Portugal and France, there were numerous calls in favour of legalising copyrights and signing diplomatic agreements. These appeals found new echoes in Brazil’s public space as the status of men of letters evolved in that country over time. In addition to the individual and collective actions begun on both sides of the Atlantic since the mid-nineteenth century, the nascent movement of literary clubs (both Brazilian and international) started its own initiatives from the 1880s, aiming to influence the Brazilian public debate and to overcome the reluctance of politicians and the emperor on this topic. Brazil’s participation in the South American Congress of Montevideo (1888–1889) and the signing of the first Luso-Brazilian literary agreement (1889) were a prelude to legal recognition of copyrights (1891 and 1898). Men of letters – acting as journalists, diplomats, politicians or legal experts – largely contributed to this process in Europe and in Brazil.

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