Licensing Act, London (1662)

Source: Durham University Library

Licensing Act, London (1662), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

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Record-ID: uk_1662

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Full title:
An Act for Preventing Abuses in Printing Seditious, Treasonable, and Unlicensed Books and Pamphlets, and for Regulating of Printing and Printing Presses (the Licensing Act), 1662, 13 & 14 Car.II, c.33

Full title original language:

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 printing 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).

1 Commentary:

  • Walker, J. 'The Censorship of the Press during the reign of Charles II', History, 35 (1950): 219-38

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

  • Kitchin, G.W., Sir Roger L'Estrange: a contribution to the history of the press in the seventeenth century (London: Kegan Paul & Co., 1913)

  • Hamburger, P., 'The Development of the Law of Seditious Libel and the Control of the Press', Stanford Law Review, 37 (1984-85): 661-765

  • Astbury, R., 'The Renewal of the Licensing Act in 1693 and its Lapse in 1695', Library, 5th Series, 33 (1978): 296-322

Related documents in this database:
1662: Licensing Act (parchment copy)
1663: L'Estrange's Considerations and Proposals
1693: Locke's Memorandum on the 1662 Act
1695: Reasons for objecting to the renewal of the Licensing Act

Author: N/A

Publisher: N/A

Year: 1662

Location: London

Language: English

Source: Durham University Library

Persons referred to:
Charles II
Frewen, Accepted
Juxon, William
Sheldon, Gilbert
Streater, John

Places referred to:

Cases referred to:

Institutions referred to:
Church of England
Stationers' Company
University of Cambridge
University of Oxford

Licensing Act, 1662, 13 & 14 Car.II, c.33

Stationers' Company
excluded subject matter
guild regulation
privileges, printing
religious works

Responsible editor: Ronan Deazley

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