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profits than properly belong to them, while the works of new writers find an increasing difficulty in obtaining favorable consideration, or, in fact, any consideration from the publishers. American writers are practically handicapped in their literary competition with their English rivals, and they have not even the consolation of knowing that said rivals can themselves gain in this contest any material results that would offset their own loss. With the exception of the Franklin Square series, the “ Libraries," as a rule, make no payments for their foreign material, while the payments made by the publishers of the “ Franklin Square are of necessity much smaller than those which were possible before the beginning of this cutthroat competition. It may
be mentioned here that, with the exception of the publishers of these Libraries, it is the uniform practice of reputable American publishers to pay British authors for their material, notwithstanding that, in the absence of an international copyright, they can secure through such payments no protection against competition ; and the amount of such payments is often very considerable, often equalling and sometimes exceeding the amount of the author's receipts from his English editions. Under an international copyright, however, such payments would doubtless be materially increased, especially for the younger and less known authors.
In addition to the direct and indirect business interests of American writers in this matter, it should possess for them, as members of the great guild of authors, a strong and active ethical interest. Believing, as they unquestionably do, that the work of a man's brain is his property as certainly as is the work of his hands, they can but be ready to do what is in their power to secure a full recognition of an author's property-rights throughout the civilized world. The people of the United States are the only nation, itself possessing a great and growing literature, and making a wide use of the literature of the world, which has done nothing to secure a proper protection for the rights abroad of its own writers, and to recognize the rights in its own territory of the foreign authors whose creations it utilizes and enjoys.
At the time of this writing (February 1883), a tariff bill is under consideration in Congress, which has for its avowed purpose the protection of American industries and American producers against foreign competition.
In such a measure a clause for the more effective protection of the literary laborer, who produces one of the highest classes of products, and one which is of the greatest importance to the community, might very properly find place. Curiously enough, however, the protectionists, who have for the past twenty years controlled the national policy, have been the most persistent and successful opponents of any measures for international copyright, which would, as we have pointed out, constitute the most effective protection and stimulant for American literature.
American authors should feel that upon them now rests a special responsibility in the work of so educating public and legislative opinion that this grievous national stigma may speedily be removed, that American writers
be free to sell their works throughout the world, that foreign writers may be free to receive from their American readers a just return for benefits conferred, and that American readers may be free to buy what has been paid for, and may not be free to buy what has been stolen. It
appears, however, that the possibility of international copyright has brought to the minds of the protectionists two apprehensions : first, that it would entail the payment to certain foreign producers (of literature), of American earnings that ought to be kept at home; and second, that under such a measure, some American publishers, for the purpose of decreasing the cost, to themselves and the readers, of an English work, might be unpatriotic enough to arrange to purchase duplicates of English stereotype-plates, instead of permitting American compositors to do the type-setting over again.
The dislike to paying American money to foreign producers, and the desire to retain work (even though it were unnecessary work) for American compositors, have been permitted, therefore, to outweigh the principles of common justice and the rightful claims of American authors. While producers and manufacturers of nearly all classes are besieging Congress for help and bounties of various kinds, to make good their losses or to swell their profits at the expense of the community at large, the literary laborer, who asks no help from the taxpayer, and calls for no bounties from the treasury, can properly enough demand from our legislators the simple justice of protection against the ruinous competition of the books stolen from his British rivals.
The author has this further interest, which, though less direct, is still important, in the pending tariff questions. Any thing which lessens the cost of the production of books, serves to increase their circulation, and therefore to increase the amount of profits out of which copyrights are paid, while it also helps the publishers to consider favorably literary undertakings which have before seemed doubtful or unpromising
A tariff reform in the interest of literature, therefore, bringing service alike to the writers, readers, and sellers of books, should remove all the taxes upon the materials that enter into the manufacture of books, such as paper, binders' cloth, type-metal, etc., etc. Public attention has recently been called to the absurdity of continuing the import duty on books, and it is difficult to find grounds for defending any
such tax on higher education. But the removal of this duty would affect the cost of but that small portion (less than one twentieth) of the books which are imported, while the removal of the duties on the articles which directly or indirectly enter into the manufacture of American books, would render cheaper the whole mass of our literature,—American and reprinted.
We commend to American writers, who are properly the teachers of the community, the task of inducing our voters and legislators to remove these mediæval tariff burdens on education, and when this has been accomplished, and, through the establishment of international copyright, American books are given a fair chance in the struggle for existence, the libraries of our people will represent a literature honestly acquired, effectively developed, and, in the best sense of the word, free.
The most comprehensive work on copyright is Drone's “Treatise on the Law of Property in Intellectual Productions in the United States and Great Britain,”—price $5. Jerrold's “English and Foreign Copyrights” selling at $1.25, is a good compendium of European copyright arrangements. Putnam's “International Copyright,”a pamphlet selling at 25cts., gives a convenient summary of the history of the subject.
EDITORS AND THE PERIODICAL PRESS.
EXT to a publisher, there is no person who has so evil
a reputation among literary aspirants as an editor. It is for his general imbecility, however, rather than for any moral turpitude that he is pilloried. He is usually looked upon by that grand army of rejected contributors, who are well known to constitute the real brain-power of the country, as a weak-minded blockhead, constantly engaged in refusing the most brilliant intellectual efforts from sheer incapacity for appreciating them, while allowing himself to accept the crudest offerings of his friends and relations—especially of his grandmother.
Editors are, as a class, fully capable of taking care of themselves, but it may be worth while to present here some of the considerations which must guide them in arriving at their decisions and in shaping their work, and to do what we can toward vindicating a worthy body of men from unmerited obloquy. In the first place, an editor is, as a rule, a man of good purpose, who conscientiously strives to do his duty. This duty is simply to cater to the public, to provide it with that kind of intellectual pabulum for which it craves. Further, he is a man of culture and ability, or he would never have fought his way to such a position, and—what is even more to the point-his training and experience have so fitted him to judge of the public appetite that he knows at a glance whether an article would suit his customers—just as a cheese-monger knows cheese. Bear in mind that, with