In my research I came upon an interesting webpage. It is hosted by the small village of Datchet on the Thames River in England. The town is proud to claim a famous son by the name of Robert Barker, a royal printer (his father first, and also later some of his sons). The family wealth was a result of monopolistic contracts (we might call copyrights) held and passed. This statement about his father -- In 1582 Christopher Barker listed the patents he held for himself: the Old and New Testaments, all Statutes of the Realm, the Book of Common Prayer, all Royal Proclamations and Erasmus's Book of Homilies, from which parish priests read their sermons. In 1583 he is known to have owned five printing presses in London and claimed that the capital expense of these presses, typefaces and skilled workmen required a guaranteed market for his books that only the monopoly could provide. A different source states that "Barker became interested in the printing trade and is first heard of as a publisher in 1569. In 1576 he started on his career as a Bible printer, having obtained a privilege to print the Geneva version of the Bible in England. In 1577 he purchased from Sir Thomas Wilkes, Clerk of the Privy Council, an extensive patent which included the Old and New Testament in English, with or without notes, of any translation." (University of Glasgow, 1977 exhibition titled Printing in England from William Caxton to Christopher Barker). Many posters here may be familar with the fine imposed upon Robert Barker because of a printer's error in an edition of the King James text which came to be known as the "Wicked Bible" (1631). Much of his financial problems were a result of his own ambition, but he also had to contend with difficult business issues; years later Barker's grandson would wrangle with a former sharholder's heir over the rights to the KJV manuscript (which Robert had supposedly purchased for £3,500 in 1610). More details can found at http://www.datchet.com/users/history/Robert Barker complete/robert_barker.htm Copyrights were a common English business practice, the need probably arising shortly after printing presses in England! Henry VIII wrote this 'patent' in 1535 for the printing of the Great Bible which in part states -- To all and singular Pryinters and sellers of bookes within this oure realme... the lord Crumwell keper of our pryvye seale to take for vs and in oure name speciall cure and charge that no manner of persone or persones within this oure realme shall enterprise attempte or sett in hande to print any bible in english tonge of any maner of volume duryng the space of fyue yeres... (Records of the English Bible: The Documents Relating to the Translation and Publication of the Bible in English, 1525-1611 by Henry Frowde, Oxford University Press, London, 1911). King Henry further protected his book (and Bible) printers with this proclamation in 1538 -- That no persons or persons in this realm shall from henceforth printe any booke in the Englishe tong unless uppon examination made by some of his Grace's pryvie counsaile or other such as His Highness shall appoint they have lycence so to do and have yet so havynge nott to put these words Cum privilegio regali without addying Ad imprimendum solum, and that the hole copie, or els at the least theffect of his licence and privilege be therwith printed, and playnely declared and expressed in the Englishe tonge underneth them. (Modern Language Notes, Volume XXXVIII, March 1923, Number 3) BYW, Thomas Cromwell was the leading figure behind the Great Bible and had once been so influential with Henry VIII that he was in essence a viceroy. He unfortunately negotiated a marriage of Henry to Anne (sister of the duke of Cleves as part of an alliance plan with German princes) and Henry found her so unappealing that he was refused to consummate the marriage. Shortly thereafter he became receptive to the complaints of Cromwell’s enemies; Parliament obediently voted Cromwell guilty of treason without trial, and he was beheaded in 1540.