It falls to us to inform the reader of the history of the penalties which ensure the protection of intellectual creation. Ideally, this study should be an account of comparative law. But the amplitude of the task would require long years of research and the collaboration of numerous authors. The present contribution is not a substitute for work of that scope. It adopts an essentially French point of view.
In France, intellectual property in the modern sense of the term is the result of legislation enacted between 1791 and 1857. The contribution of the twentieth century is to have synthesized the laws. But the invention of the subject happened during the first half of the nineteenth century. It is at this time that treatises uniquely concerning intellectual property appeared.
The system of privileges of the Ancien Régime does not constitute an intellectual property law in the strict sense of the term, even if there are several common points. It is possible to draw together privilege and property rights, considering that both give their beneficiaries exclusive rights. Nevertheless these concepts are not equivalent. Contrefaçon (ie intellectual property infringement) is doubtless the only common factor between the two periods. It was punished before and after the French Révolution. As we shall see, its penal sanctions show remarkable continuity from the invention of printing until the end of the nineteenth century.
Contribution de David Lefranc parue un Christophe Geiger (dir.), Criminal Enforcement of Intellectual Property. A Handbook of Contemporary Research, Edward Elgar, 2012, pp. 101-127