The phenomenal success of Scottish-based authors such as J K Rowling, Alexander McCall Smith and Ian Rankin underlines the importance of copyright as an intellectual property right, but patents also protect much of the technology surrounding the production of books – and have done so ever since the revolution created by the printing press.
On 15th September 1507 King James IV of Scotland issued a licence to Androw Myllar (sic) and Walter Chepman which gave them a printing monopoly in Scotland.
The patent issued by King James IV (which can be seen at the National Archives of Scotland) stated that Chepman and Myllar's printing press should predominantly print books for church and government use. Despite this, Myllar and Chepman initially produced a series of poetry booklets, followed by their first novel, printed in April 1508, a romance called "The Complaint of the Black Knight".
In celebration of the issue of the first licence for printing in Scotland (15 September 1507) and the production of the first printed book in Scotland (4 April 1508), a number of Scottish organisations are running a programme of commemorative events, starting this month and running throughout 2008. For further information visit www.500yearsofprinting.org.