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The Queen's Printer's Patent

An image of a page from the Book of Common Prayer
Rights in the Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible and Book of Common Prayer

In the United Kingdom, rights in the Authorized Version of the Bible (AV), also known as the King James Bible or King James Version (KJV), are Crown copyright. Only a small number of publishers have entitlement to reproduce the KJV.  

Cambridge University Press is responsible for administering the Crown's rights in the KJV in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Cambridge first published an edition of the Authorized Version in 1629 and has been publishing it ever since. The Latin term 'cum privilegio' is printed on the title pages of Cambridge editions of the KJV and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (BCP), to denote the charter authority or privilege under which they are published.

There have only ever been at any one time three bodies entitled to print the KJV and BCP in England: the university presses of Cambridge and of Oxford (who similarly have a charter which entitles them to publish and print as a Privileged Press) and the Royal Printer. In addition to its own privilege, Cambridge has also been the owner since 1990 of Royal Letters Patent as The Queen's Printer: as such, Cambridge is entitled both to print and publish the KJV and the BCP, and also to control or license their publication on behalf of the Crown. The Scottish Bible Board has similar delegated authority in respect of the KJV in Scotland.

The primary function for Cambridge in its role as patent-holder is preserving the integrity of the text, continuing a long-standing tradition and reputation for textual scholarship and accuracy of printing. As a university press, a charitable enterprise devoted to the advancement of learning, Cambridge has no desire to restrict artificially that advancement; commercial restrictiveness through a partial monopoly is no part of our purpose. We grant permission to use the text, and license printing or the importation for sale within the UK, as long as we are assured of acceptable quality and accuracy. 


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