This book offers an aesthetic account of intellectual property rights as they concern works of art and literature. The thesis begins with a comparison of British copyright and French droit d'auteur, and goes through a historical survey of licenses and printing privileges in both countries, including the Statute of Anne of 1710 as well as the Fine Arts Act of 1862 in Britain, and La loi du 19 juillet 1793 in France. The core of the thesis is a reading of selected legal cases in Britain and France from the early 19th century to the present. Cases concerning works of art and literature are closely analyzed and compared in terms of their concern and consequences for the scope of protection, the justification for copyright, the concept of the work and of the author/creator, the notion of originality, and the concepts of copying and infringement. Cases are presented chronologically in order to expose trends and developments. It presents, in outline, a conceptual history of reproduction (as substitution, as multiplication, as appropriation), in order to understand the legal conflicts and inconsistencies in copyright law. These particularly concern the disparity between the ownership of an immaterial work and that of its material manifestation, as well as the lack of an appropriate legal distinction between images and texts. Dissertation.