Commentary on the Licensing Act 1662

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

Research output: Other contribution


Legislation prohibiting the publication of any literary work without prior licence.
Drawing upon both the Star Chamber Decree 1637 (uk_1637) and the Acts Regulating Printing during the Interregnum (see: uk_1643 and associated documents), the Licensing Act set out a comprehensive set of provisions concerning both the licensing of the press and the regulation and management of the book trade. In addition, it confirmed the rights of those holding printing privileges (or patents) granted in accordance with the royal prerogative (see for example: Day's privilege for The Cosmographical Glass (uk_1559b)) as well as those who had registered works with the Stationers' Company (uk_1557). It also introduced the first legal library deposit requirement. In force between 1662 and 1679, and then again between 1685 and 1695, the Act represents the last occasion on which the censorship of the press was formally and strategically linked to the protection of the economic interests of the Stationers' Company. Its lapse led the Stationers' Company to lobby parliament for renewed protection, ultimately resulting in the passing of the Statute of Anne 1710 (uk_1710).
Original languageEnglish
TypeScholarly Commentary
Media of outputOnline
PublisherUniversity of Cambridge
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Please cite as: Deazley, R. (2008) ‘Commentary on the Licensing Act 1662', in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,


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