This project examines the history of copyright in the early Dutch Republic (ca. 1581–1621). It relates the genesis of intellectual property rights to wider issues concerning state formation and innovation. The primary source material for the study consists of printing privileges. Tracing the transformations regarding the type of knowledge that was being privileged, the project asks how a state in the making sought to define the notion of "useful knowledge." By answering this question, it will contribute to the study of how knowledge was produced and transmitted in the early modern period, with a particular focus on the Dutch Republic.