Lapas attēli
PDF
ePub

the ownership is actually vested. There is also nothing to prevent the certificate being transferred to the name of the author, if such additional precaution be deemed advisable.

If an author, while considering arrangements for publication, is anxious to secure the control of a title which seems to him to be especially desirable, he can have a titlepage put into type, and by forwarding this, as above, with the fee of one dollar, can secure his certificate of entry, leaving the copyright to be perfected later by the forwarding of the two copies of his book.

Fifth. The protection of copyright is extended not only to material which is in itself original, but also to any originality of method or arrangement in the combination or classification of material. Under this principle, copyrights are secured for dictionaries, in which of course the majority of the definitions must be identical with those given in similar works ; for tables of arithmetic, chronology, natural history, etc., etc., in which of necessity the facts are always the same.

We may mention, as an example, a recent decision of the courts to the effect that a certain arrangement of the names of bones, grouped in more or less arbitrary figures designed to assist the student in memorizing, was entitled to copyright, although the same lists of names were of course repeated in every work on anatomy.

Sixth. Any measures which may become necessary for the protection of an author's copyright against infringements are usually undertaken through the publisher, who acts as the representative of the author, but the expense of such measures has to be borne by the author whose property is being defended. In like manner, any suit which may be instituted against a publication alleged to be an infringement, is usually brought against the publisher of the work; but whether or not it may be established that the work does constitute or contain an infringement, all expenses, penalties, and outlays

that may

for this cause have been incurred, are chargeable to the author or editor with whom the publisher's contract has been made. Such contract contains the provision that the author or editor with whom the publisher has to do, and who claims to be the owner of the copyright of the work, shall make good to the publisher any expense incurred in defending such copyright, and shall also guarantee to the publisher that the work contains no infringement of any

other

copyright and no libels of any kind. If, therefore, such infringementor libel be afterward discovered, the responsibility and the cost of making good the same must be borne by the author.

Seventh. Contracts for publication usually contain some provision concerning the division, between publisher and author, of such profits as may accrue through the sale in foreign countries of editions of the work, or of duplicates of the stereotype-plates, or of advance sheets. It is customary to divide these receipts from sales abroad on the same basis as that which has been arranged for the division of the net proceeds of the American editions.

As a matter of fact, it is very seldom that with a first book there are any foreign sales, so that the question of the division of the profits on these need not arise.

An author may also prefer to provide in his publishing agreement that the control of the arrangements for the foreign editions of his work shall be left in his own hands. In most cases, however, his American publisher, having a knowledge of the methods of publishing in England (practically the only country in which American works are ever purchased), and of the English publishing houses, can secure a much better arrangement for an English edition than the author can, provided any arrangement at all is possible.

Eighth. The question is often asked whether an American author can secure a copyright in foreign countries, and it is not easy to give an explicit answer to it. The United States have at present (1883) no international copyright arrangements with other countries, and except in Great Britain, American works can be reprinted in the original or in translations) without restriction. The amount of such reprinting of American books on the Continent is still inconsiderable, but it is from year to year increasing, and in some instances, such as those of the French and German editions of Irving, Cooper, Mrs. Stowe, etc., the number of volumes sold has been very large, and the amount that would have been realized by the authors, if there had been a copyright arrangement, would have been important.

In Great Britain, also, American writers can claim no copyright protection on the strength of international arrangements, for the various attempts that have been made between 1851 and 1882 to secure a copyright treaty between the United States and England have thus far resulted in nothing

The British Government has, however, as a rule, been ready to give a more elastic interpretation to the term “resident” than that insisted upon by the American authorities, and in a number of instances a stay of a few weeks in some portion of the British dominions, such as Canada, has been sufficient to enable an American writer to secure a copyright entry in London for a work published simultaneously in England and the United States.

The validity of copyrights so obtained has, however, often been contested in the English courts, and the decisions concerning them have been so conflicting that it is at this time considered hardly advisable to place any special reliance upon British copyrights secured through temporary residence. Canada has a copyright law of its own, and under this law the American rather than the English definition of the word resident is followed, and a temporary sojourn by the author can not be made serviceable to prevent the reprinting within the Dominion of an American work.

The commission appointed by the British Parliament in 1876 to investigate into the working of the present law of copyright, and to make suggestions as to its improvement, have presented an elaborate report, the recommendations of which are likely to be adopted. Among these is one to the effect that all writers, without regard to citizenship or residence, can secure copyright in Great Britain by duly entering their works in the London copyright office, and by making the first publication of them in Great Britain. If simultaneous publication in Great Britain and the United States can be accepted as answering the requirements of “ first publication,” the passage of the British act in the form recommended by the commission will, of course, prove of great importance and material service to all American writers who succeed in obtaining a trans-Atlantic reputation and circle of readers.

Such a measure ought to be followed at an early date by the completion of a treaty, or the passage of an act of Congress, under which a similar recognition should be made in this country of the rights of British authors.

We should understand that the new British copyright law would, if enacted, apply to all portions of the British dominions, excepting such of the colonies as possessed independent colonial legislatures, and as saw fit to pass enactments nullifying or limiting in any way the imperial act.

Meanwhile, until the British act has been passed, and in the absence of any international arrangement, American writers have to take their chance as to obtaining, through temporary residence, a defensible British copyright, or as to securing (usually through their American publishers) some honorarium payment from British publishers. Several of the leading London firms can be depended upon to make

such payments, when they can be persuaded to undertake American books at all, while other houses, in good standing and doing a large and important business, will neither themselves make payments, nor will they respect the arrangements of their neighbors who have done so; so that if an American work makes any success in England, a number of competing editions, bearing reputable publishing imprints, appear almost at once, and the publisher of the single issue that is authorized, finds his margin of profit, out of which the author's payment is to come, reduced to a minimum.

Ninth. The foregoing will make clear the nature of the direct interest of American writers in the question of international copyright. The authors who have already secured a trans-Atlantic reputation and are obtaining some payments for their European editions, would find their receipts very largely increased, while for those who are beginning their literary career it will be much easier to effect publishing arrangements in Great Britain, when their British publishers can be protected in their undertakings against the competition of unauthorized rivals. The indirect gain to American writers through the establishment of international copyright would, however, be still more important.

The lack of such copyright has rendered possible the publication and wide circulation of cheap series of reprints of English works, principally in the department of fiction, but including also works of travel and not a little popular biography and light literature.

The competition of these series, absorbing as they do so large a proportion of the book-reading and book-buying that is done, renders it very much more difficult to secure a remunerative sale for a copyright-paying American work of fiction or light literature.

As a consequence, the books of authors who have established their reputation secure much smaller sales and smaller

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »