Stationers' Company v. Carnan, London (1775)

Source: Lincolns Inn Library

Stationers' Company v. Carnan, London (1775), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

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Full title:
Stationers' Company v. Carnan (1775) 2 W. Bl. 1004

Full title original language:

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.

1 Commentary:

  • Monotti, A., 'Nature and Basis of Crown Copyright in Official Publications', European Intellectual Property Review, 14 (1992): 305-16

  • Blagden, C., 'Thomas Carnan and the Almanack Monopoly', Studies in Bibliography, 14 (1961): 26-43

  • Blagden, C.,The Stationers' Company: A History, 1403-1959 (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1960)

Related documents in this database:

Author: N/A

Publisher: N/A

Year: 1775

Location: London

Language: English

Source: Lincolns Inn Library

Persons referred to:
Blackstone, William
Caesar, Gaius Julius
Carnan, Thomas
Edward VI
Elizabeth I
Gibson, Edmund
Gould, Henry
Gregory XIII
Grose, Nash
Henry VII
James I
Mansfield, William Murray, 1st Earl
Mary I
Nares, John
Strype, John
Yates, Joseph
de Grey, William

Places referred to:

Cases referred to:
Basket v. University of Cambridge (1758) 2 Keny. 397, 1 Black W. 105, 2 Burr. 661
Millar v. Taylor (1769) 4 Burr. 2303
Stationers' Company v. Carnan (1775) 2 W. Bl. 1004
Stationers' Company v. Leigh (1681) 34 & 35 Car.II Snow. 258; 2 Ch. Cas. 66
Stationers' Company v. Marlow 32 Car. 2. Lilly's Entr. 63; 2 Snow. 233.
Stationers' Company v. Parker (1686), King's Bench; Skinn. 233
Stationers' Company v. Partridge (1709) 11 Ann. (King's Bench); 10 Mod. 105
Stationers' Company v. Seymour (1677) 1 Mod. 256

Institutions referred to:
Court of Common Pleas
House of Lords
See of Canterbury
See of London
Stationers' Company


Stationers' Company
religious works

Responsible editor: Ronan Deazley

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