Commentary on Stationers' Company v. Carnan (1775)

Ronan Deazley, Martin Kretschmer (Editor), Lionel Bently (Editor)

Research output: Other contribution


Case in which the Court of Common Pleas decided that the Crown did not have the authority to grant exclusive prerogative rights over the printing of almanacs, a monopoly which the Stationers' Company had enjoyed, uncontested, since the formation of the ‘English Stock' in the early seventeenth century.
The commentary describes the background to the litigation, as well as the various strategies that the Stationers' Company employed in their efforts to regain control of the almanac market in the wake of the decision. It also explores how the decision provided the springboard for the emergence of a more contemporary concept of prerogative copyright. It was no longer thought that the Crown could grant printing patents over certain classes of work as of right. Rather, it was the monarch's unique constitutional position as head of both church and state that imposed an obligation to ensure the dissemination of authentic and authoritative versions of both legal and religious materials, and, from this obligation, the right to print the same arose.
Original languageEnglish
TypeScholarly Commentary
Media of outputOnline
PublisherUniversity of Cambridge
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Please cite as: Deazley, R. (2008) ‘Commentary on Stationers' Company v. Carnan (1775)', in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,


  • copyright history


Dive into the research topics of 'Commentary on Stationers' Company v. Carnan (1775)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this