16th - 17th Century
The Stationers' Company Register (1556-1695)
The Charter gave the Company the right to search for and seize illicit or pirated 'copies' and to prevent publication of any book which had not been licensed by a warden of the Company, together with a government licenser and afterwards entered in what came to be known as the 'entry book of copies' or the Stationers' Company Register. This regulation remained in force, at least nominally, until 1695, when it was replaced by the first copyright act in 1710. See Copyright.
The Beginnings of the English Stock (1603-1961)
In 1603, the Company was granted a royal patent to form a joint stock publishing company funded by shares held by members of the Company. Its most profitable patent was for almanacks in the English language, including the famous or notorious Old Moore. It brought the 'partners' or shareholders large dividends. The Stock was intended to be partly charitable, providing work for the many unemployed printers, and the first £200 p.a. of profit was to be distributed in pensions to the Company's poor.