Ian Williams (University College London), “Becoming Normal? Law Printing in the 1630s”

Monday, March 2, 2015 - 16:15 to 18:00
Victoria College, Alumni Hall (VC 112) 91 Charles St. West, Toronto, ON M5S 1K7 Canada


As we create media in new formats and the world of online publishing evolves, how should we think about potential policy concerns, new and emerging problems, and potential solutions, streamlining, and efficiencies? Is DRM the answer? Does copyright law need to catch up? What effects might these changes have on authors, publishers, and readers? Take a page from history to learn how early regulation of printed materials might inform some of these ongoing debates.

The Centre for Innovation Law and Policy is excited to co-sponsor “Becoming Normal? Law Printing in the 1630s,” a lecture by Ian Williams, Lecturer in the Faculty of Laws at University College London, with the Collaborative Program in Book History and Print Culture. The lecture will take place March 2, 2015, from 4:15 – 6:00 p.m. in Victoria College, Alumni Hall (VC112). An abstract of the talk and Professor Williams’ bio are below:


False attributions of authorship, unauthorized printings, competing editions and complaints about quality were hardly unusual in early-modern printing. But these problems were virtually unheard of in relation to English legal printing after the grant of the monopoly patent in the 1550s. Nevertheless, they all appear in English legal printing from around 1630, despite the continued existence of the patent. In this paper I shall present the evidence that something changed in common-law printing around 1630 and that legal printing came to look much more like other parts of the printing trade. In doing so I hope to cast some light on changes in the nature of the law patent and in the relationship between the legal profession and legal printers.

Ian Williams

Ian Williams is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Laws at University College London and has been a Fellow of Christ’s College, Cambridge, and at the Huntington Library. Ian’s research interests are in early-modern legal history, in particular legal scholarship, including law books and the Inns of Court, and legal theory. These interests come together in work on legal reasoning, where legal theory and legal scholarship are applied in individual cases, mixing the history of ideas with histories of the book and reading.

Made possible by a generous gift from Microsoft Canada.