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you can do is to give an exclusive right," and that the purpose is not to benefit the author and inventor, but to benefit science and industry.
The CHAIRMAN. What benefit does the public get when you give the author, on the basis of a copyright, the utilization of his copyright for the balance of his life and 50 years thereafter?
Mr. FENNING. At the end of 50 years, if there is any public left, the public may gain. I think that is too long.
The CHAIRMAN. I can not see where it is a benefit to the public gain at all. When you delivered your remarkable address on patents you said after a period of 17 years that the patents went to the public domain, the public could use them. We had an idea of what it was, we gave you an exclusive monopoly on the theory that the public is going to get something for it.
Mr. FENNING. Quite.
The CHAIRMAN. But, with a copyright for the life of the author and 50 years thereafter, what does the public gain?
Mr. FENNING. Of course, Shakespeare is still useful to the public. The CHAIRMAN. You mean after a century?
Mr. FENNING. After 50 years after the death of the author, if you can find who the author was, and where and when he died, and when your 50-year period is up.
Mr. Dies. The right to the creations of one's mind is subject to limitation, just as any other properties. You hear much said about absolute right. There is no more originality involved in the creation of a book than in the creation of a machine.
Mr. FENNING. But there is an absolute right to keep it secret, and that is the only absolute right. Or, to publish it, of course. You can't stop him from publishing it.
The CHAIRMAN. What profit would an author get by keeping it absolutely secret?
Mr. FENNING. If he happens to be lecturing in a university and has something in his lectures that people will come to hear, there may be some advantage.
The CHAIRMAN. But somebody might take it down by stenography. Mr. FENNING. And infringe his copyright if they publish it. • Mrs. Wilson, I believe, is said at the present time to have a good many letters which President Wilson wrote, and she will let no one publish them. Of course, she is making nothing from them; but no one has the right to publish them without her permission.
I think that covers the one or two things I want to say.
The CHAIRMAN. To-morrow, in view of this very interesting statement made by Mr. Fenning, we are going to have the Authors League of America here. It will be very interesting to hear what they will say on this subject. All the great authors and others will be here to-morrow.
Mr. Brown. I would like the privilege of saying just a word in explanation of what Mr. Fenning has said.
Mr. FENNING. Let me say that I made no attack on the copyright office. It was on the copyright statute.
Mr. Brown. That is quite understood. This matter of the disposal of copyright deposits was thoroughly thrashed out when the law of 1909 was under consideration, and what brought it to an acute stage largely was the fact that the extent of the deposits was growing
so enormously there was no room in the Library of Congress to store them, and it was obvious that as the thing went on, if they were all saved, the copyright office would push the rest of the library out of the building. That is a slight exaggeration, but the point is it was becoming too burdensome to keep everything. As I explained, one of the main purposes of the deposit was the enrichment of the Library. It was then agreed that the enrichment of other Government libraries in the District might be considered a legal point for the distribution of copies, and so all the other Government departments have the privilege of taking books which are not wanted by the Library of Congress.
Mr. Dies. In that connection, is that right shared by libraries generally over the country?
Mr. BROWN. The Government libraries of the District.
Mr. Brown. Yes. The library of the War College, the library of the Interior Department, the departmental libraries.
The CHAIRMAN. Wouldn't it have been better to have had one storage warehouse where you could find it all, indexed properly, so you could find it without running around to all the libraries
Mr. Brown. We know where they have gone now. But, of course, they are of no use to the libraries unless the libraries may have them on their own shelves, and that includes, too, may I say, the public library of the District of Columbia. There is a provision under which copies not so disposed of may
be returned to the claimant, and a provision is added that the register of copyrights and the Librarian of Congress together may decide which of the copies deposited may be destroyed after being duly advised of the privilege of their return. That provision of the act has never been acted upon, and up to the present time no copies have been destroyed. They have been passed to the Library of Congress, to other libraries, the public libraries, or returned to claimants.
Mr. SOLBERG. I would like to state that, as Mr. Brown states, prior to the 1909 enactment there was consideration of the enormous collection of deposited articles, and I took the trouble at that time, having it in mind to urge this legislation for disposal, to ask many of my friends, legal friends, in Washington about the doing away with the collection, which was proof of property. They all threw up their hands and said: "Why, that is an innovation." I then invited them to come up and see the collection and also invited them, and by correspondence all the lawyers who had copyright business, to tell me if they could give me any information of a single case in which they had taken copies into court as evidence. We found that out of the millions deposited four cases were discovered.
The CHAIRMAN. Four cases in how long a time?
I speak very frankly, because it was my insistence, I think, that got rid of a large proportion of the deposits. When I took charge of the office here, with these hundreds of thousands of books, many of them beautiful books, large folio volumes like Bradley's Sketches, many
beautiful books lying down in the cellar, because it was impossible in the movement from the old building to keep them in order-it cost the Government at least $5,000 under my instructions to put those books in order so that they could be found. The whole collection has been moved three times.
The CHAIRMAN. Wouldn't you think, as Mr. Fenning brought out, to charge a few dollars more and use a great storage house where they could all be kept, would be better?
Mr. SOLBERG. But I would think, Mr. Chairman, that you would have to justify even that expense. As a matter of fact, in the first place, the litigation of copyrights is very insignificant. Out of about 4,000,000 registrations not 1,000 have been taken into court, and required the decision of a court.
The CHAIRMAN. Does that include assignments ?
Mr. SOLBERG. Oh, everything. The fact is that everywhere in Europe they have abandoned that purpose of filing the copies for proof. Copies are filed for other reasons, for censorship and for bibliographic purposes.
The CHAIRMAN. How would you controvert what Mr. Fenning stated as to the relationship between patents and copyrights ?
Mr. SOLBERG. I am not up in patent law and principle, but I would think that a very good differentiation could be made between them. It is not the same thing. We grant a different kind of absolute control over a patent. No author has any such control over his book, and there wouldn't seem to be really the need for protection, at least to the author, and in consequence to the assignee who wants to use the author's work as the assumption is that everything that is printed and published is owned by somebody. All you have to do is to find out who owns it, and make your own terms for use.
We insisted in 1909 on publication with notice. That was a step forward. You do not have to file and register in advance the titlepage. I can remember one instance where there was 22 years' difference between the filing of the title-page and the filing of the book, which consisted of 50 pages. The man had never had money to print his book. He didn't want to hide it. And that is another point. We have not discovered any case where any manuscripts are hidden. Everybody who writes something wants to publish it, wants it used.
When the suggestion was made at Berlin in 1908' to remove the restriction of automatic universal protection involving the necessity of obtaining a grant from the country of origin, we were told, “Oh, it will bring an avalanche of litigation."
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Solberg, I have been trying to meditate and deliberate as to what harm it does to any author, I don't care whether it is in Europe or America. You have written a book, you say. I don't see what harm it does to any author to send it down and have it registered, which gives him an automatic copyright and everything that goes with it. Why must you have an automatic copyright? Isn't it a greater protection to a man to know that his book and a copy of it is right here in Washington with the register of copyrights? It costs him a dollar or two. Why should you have this worry about something that a man has done that nobody in the world knows about? Why couldn't you educate Europe to the principle of registration of the copyright? The man who deals with the author knows his book is copyrighted, registered, or recorded. It gives him a peculiar psychological something to know it is there. With the automatic copyright you don't know who has got something. You don't know how he has
got something. You only know when a conflict comes up in court. Therefore, I was thinking instead of having Europe to educate us, why can't we educate Europe and
have Europe adopt the principle of copyright and registration, because it gives everybody concern, particularly the man who puts his money into it, who puts his finances behind it, an opportunity to know he has some security? In other words, I don't believe because it was born in Europe that that makes it holy. I believe in American-made goods and I think we could have an international copyright based upon American ideals in which we are right.
Mr. SOLBERG. Well, Mr. Chairman, if I might answer that with a little reference to individual experience. There was instituted in March, 1878, the International
The CHAIRMAN. You know they have the League of Nations started in Europe, but when it is put into operation it turns out to be pretty bad. Personally I am an author. I have written plays. I have just finished another. I feel greater protection in my play if it is copy, righted than if it were automatic. I might read it to somebody and before I know it somebody else has got it. I do not know how, where, or which, and it would give me a great deal of worry. But if I protect it by copyright, I know that no man in the world can copy it, and it only costs $2. That is within the reach of everyone and it gives them that security.
Mr. SOLBERG. And the cost of the book?
The CHAIRMAN. I do not even have to put it in book form. I can file it in manuscript form.
Mr. SOLBERG. I might say that out of that association grew the idea of just what you are saying, that it would be an enormous convenience, especially in Europe, where there are different nations and different languages, if there could be a single place, not only for bibliographic purposes but for the registration of legal property in these publications, and Berne was suggested as the proper place, because that is the bureau of the international convention. Year after year the urgers of this proposal brought it before the annual meeting. At first it was generally accepted. Everyone accepted it. There was no direct adverse thought; but in three or four years, when they had studied it completely, they said, “We will give it up. It can't be done.”
What can be substituted, and is practically being substituted, is that in every country there is a national pride in its bibliographic collection of intellectual production, and there are many countries that require deposit for that—Spain, France, and Italy, and to some extent Germany, only more limited, but it is not proof of literary property.
Now, going back to what I stated about this avalanche of litigation, after 10 years 18 countries having entered the International Copyright Union, there were 81 copyright cases and no more.
The CHAIRMAN. We will adjourn until 9.30 o'clock to-morrow morning.
(Whereupon, at 12.10 o'clock p. m., the committee adjourned to Tuesday, February 2, 1932, at 9.30 o'clock a. m.)
GENERAL REVISION OF THE COPYRIGHT LAW
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 1932
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C. The committee met, pursuant to adjournment, in the caucus room, House Office Building, at 9.30 o'clock a. m., Hon. William I. Sirovich (chairman) presiding).
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order, and the hearing will proceed, with the morning devoted to the Authors' League of America.
I want the stenographer to note the following telegrams received from various authors and composers throughout the country: Milton Shubert; Booth Tarkington; Phyllis Duganne; Eugene O'Neill; Ida Tarbell, George Gershwin; the Theatre Guild (Inc.); Richard Schayer, sr., editor Universal Picture Corporation; William B. De Mille; Nina Wilcox Putnam; James Gleason; Zoe Atkins; John Golden; Samuel Hoffenstein; Herman J. Mankiewicz, Paramount Studio; Grant Hibbard; George Middleton; Wallace Irwin; Writers' Branch, Executive Committee; Academy Arts and Sciences; the Screen-Writers' Guild of the Authors' League of America; Rita Weiman; F. Scott Fitzgerald; Rachael Crowthers; Rex Beach; George Chamberlin, consul general to Mexico; Montagu Glass; Irving Fraser; Gillette Wilbur Tompkins; Julian Street; John W. Rumsey; the Incorporated Society of Authors; Ernest Poole; Mark Swan; Lincoln Osborne; Gladys B. Unger; Paul Osborne; Don Marquis; Don Powell; Benjamin Glaser; Kenneth Wood; Dwight Taylor; Martin O'Brien; James A. Spillman; Walter Hackett; Doris Anderson; Ralph Bloch; Charles Francis Coe; Lewis Joseph Vance; Lucien Carey; Sidney Howard; Dean Bryant; William Rouse, John Howard Lawson; Samuel 'French; Howard Green; Edison Clift; Raymond L. Goldman; John Meighan; Richard Tabor; Lewis S. Stange; Alexander McKaid; W. E. Nichols; Katherine Cornell; Jonathan Leonard; Edward Lasker; James Forbes; Paul Parent; Samson Rafaelson; and countless other hundreds of telegrams and letters which I have received, and which names, for the benefit of the Authors' League of America, I shall incorporate into the copyright record of the Committee on Patents.
In order to give this entire morning to the Authors' League of America Miss Sillcox, the secretary, has presented a list of names which she has requested me to call upon to present the side of the Authors' League and the representatives of the dramatic forces of our country. I shall first call upon Joseph B. Bickerton, jr.