Defoe's Essay on the Press, London (1704)

Source: National Editor's personal collection: Facsimile Edition, (Oxford: Luttrell Society, 1947)

Defoe's Essay on the Press, London (1704), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

Back | Record | Images | Commentaries: [1]
Record-ID: uk_1704

Permanent link:

Full title:
An Essay on the Regulation of the Press

Full title original language:

Treatise in which Daniel Defoe sets out his arguments concerning the importance of maintaining a free press, as well as the need to provide for a statutory protection to prevent the 'press-piracy' of published books. Defoe sets out various public interest arguments concerning the encouragement of learning, industry and the arts, in support of his case for the introduction of copyright legislation. The commentary describes part of the background to the passing of the Statute of Anne 1710 (uk_1710), in particular: the various unsuccessful attempts to reintroduce an alternative to the Licensing Act 1662 (uk_1662); Defoe's public writing on the need for, and social value of, copyright protection; and the influence of his writings in providing the Company of Stationers with a new rhetorical strategy with which to lobby parliament and secure the passing of the Statute of Anne.

1 Commentary:

  • Rose, M., Authors and Owners: The Invention of Copyright (London: Harvard University Press, 1993)

  • Feather, J., 'The Book Trade in Politics: The Making of the Copyright Act of 1710', Publishing History, 8 (1980): 19-44

  • Downie, J.A., Robert Harley and the Press: Propaganda and Public Opinion in the Age of Swift and Defoe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978)

Related documents in this database:
1706: Reasons Humbly Offer'd for the Bill for the Encouragement of Learning

Author: Daniel Defoe

Publisher: N/A

Year: 1704

Location: London

Language: English

Source: National Editor's personal collection: Facsimile Edition, (Oxford: Luttrell Society, 1947)

Persons referred to:
Anderton, William
Athanasius, St
Augustine, St
Baxter, Richard
Charles II
Cicero, Marcus Tullius
Coward, William
Defoe, Daniel
Filmer, Sir Robert
James I
Louis XIV
Richelieu, Armand Jean Duplessis, Cardinal de
Sidney, Algernon
William III

Places referred to:

Cases referred to:

Institutions referred to:
Church of England
Royal Academy


Stationers' Company
interest groups
learning, the advancement of
moral rights, integrity
property analogies
public good

Responsible editor: Ronan Deazley

Our Partners

Copyright statement

You may copy and distribute the translations and commentaries in this resource, or parts of such translations and commentaries, in any medium, for non-commercial purposes as long as the authorship of the commentaries and translations is acknowledged, and you indicate the source as Bently & Kretschmer (eds), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900) (

You may not publish these documents for any commercial purposes, including charging a fee for providing access to these documents via a network. This licence does not affect your statutory rights of fair dealing.

Although the original documents in this database are in the public domain, we are unable to grant you the right to reproduce or duplicate some of these documents in so far as the images or scans are protected by copyright or we have only been able to reproduce them here by giving contractual undertakings. For the status of any particular images, please consult the information relating to copyright in the bibliographic records.

Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge, 10 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DZ, UK