Star Chamber Decree, Westminster (1586)

Source: Durham University Library: Arber, E., A Transcript of the Registers of the Company of Stationers of London, 1557-1640, 5 vols. (London: n.p., 1875-94) 2: 807

Star Chamber Decree, Westminster (1586), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

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Record-ID: uk_1586

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Full title:
The newe Decrees of the Starre Chamber for Orders in Printinge

Full title original language:

A decree prohibiting the publication of any book contrary to statute, injunction, ordinance and letters patents, as well as any ordinance set down by the Company of Stationers. The formal protection of the Star Chamber was extended not only to books protected under royal printing privileges (see: uk_1566) but to books printed in contravention of the internal regulations of the Stationers' Company itself, further enhancing the significance of 'stationers' copyright'. The commentary describes the background to the decree, in particular the religious controversies of the 1570s and 1580s, as well as the dissatisfaction within the general printing trade during this period at the manner in which a number of the printing privileges granted by Elizabeth resulted in the monopolistic control of commercially lucrative works within the hands of a few stationers only. The commentary also details the efforts of the dominant members of the Stationers' Company to influence the substance of the decree and further augment their control over the internal operation of the book trade.

1 Commentary:

  • Siebert, F.S., Freedom of the Press in England, 1476-1776 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1965)

  • Patterson, L.R., Copyright in Historical Perspective (Nashville: Vanderbilt University, 1968)

  • Loewenstein, J., The Author's Due: Printing and the Prehistory of Copyright (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2002)

  • Judge, C.B., Elizabethan Book Pirates (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1934)

  • Clegg, C.S., Press Censorship in Jacobean England, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001)

Related documents in this database:

Author: N/A

Publisher: N/A

Year: 1586

Location: Westminster

Language: English

Source: Durham University Library: Arber, E., A Transcript of the Registers of the Company of Stationers of London, 1557-1640, 5 vols. (London: n.p., 1875-94) 2: 807

Persons referred to:
Aylmer, John
Elizabeth I
Whitgift, John

Places referred to:

Cases referred to:

Institutions referred to:
High Commission
Privy Council
Stationers' Company
Stationers' Hall
University of Cambridge
University of Oxford


Stationers' Company
book trade
censorship, pre-publication
guild regulation
interest groups
law books
printing, history of
public good

Responsible editor: Ronan Deazley

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