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can buy it here at the American price, it is true, but fair prices, and on that point alone I do not think that this bill is to be condemned simply because the Americans with their standards of living are charging prices to the average retailer which are higher than the established prices, and I do not believe an American labor association would go on record as advocating standards of labor in the printing industry and wages which are to be on the same basis as prevail in English and European markets.
Now, there is another point. That first point seems to me to be entirely sound—that we are going to be able to get foreign books through the American bookseller, and all these smoke screens that are raised as to the inconvenience are really not worth considering.
In the second place, there are probably a large number of foreign publications the only market for which in America is the library. For that character of book that library market is important to the American publisher, and I think it is entirely reasonable that if the American publisher goes to the trouble and expense of obtaining the rights to publish and manufacture in this country a foreign work, it is not unreasonable to ask the libraries to first come to the American manufacturer to buy that book, and if the American library is not to be a prospective market for that work the American publisher will have no market for that particular work. I think that applies largely to reference works, scientific treatises, and things which are not strictly popular works, so that both of those points, I believe, are really justifications for the prohibition of the r'ight of libraries and others mentioned in the bill to bring in without restriction copies of foreign publications, and I think if Doctor Raney would be fair and read the express provisions of the Vestas bill he would have to admit that some of the objections which he voiced this morning are really unsound. He referred to all the Belgian and German works and other nationalities which can be obtained now. That is not changed one iota in the Vestal bill. Furthermore, he is not precluded from getting any English publication because we have the genuine English edition if they want it, and if he will read the provisions of the bill, at the bottom of page 25 and top of page 26, he will find that has been adequately provided for, and all he has to do is to go to the American publisher and seller and find out if he has not got it, and as a matter of common sense the average reasonable man would do that if he is at all interested in American industry.
I will also mention briefly that the book publishers' association, I think, have taken very logical viewpoints on this earnest, honest effort that has been made to draft a copyright law which shall secure to the authors and the composers their real personal property rights. I should say that the book publishers might raise the same objection that Mr. Lucas raised on behalf of the magazines and other periodicals, and that was subsequently raised on behalf of the motion-picture association and on behalf of the Victor Talking Machine Co. We could insist on all those, but we do feel that unless we do protect the author we who publish and make canned music would not have anything that we could publish and sell if it were not for the author and composer, and that their brains and genius provide these things. So the book publishers' association is on
record as favoring this bill, and I only wanted to speak of these objections that Doctor Raney particularly had made and point out to you that they are grossly exaggerated, and that in a sense they misrepresent what the express provisions of the bill are and are not really common sense.
I thank you.
(Thereupon, at 4.50 o'clock p. m., the committee adjourned to meet again at 9.30 o'clock a. m., Friday, April 30, 1926.)
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Friday, April 30, 1926. The committee met at 10 o'clock a. m., Hon. Albert H. Vestal (chairman) presiding.
The Chairman. The committee will come to order and we will proceed. Doctor Evans desires to be heard this morning and we will hear him at this time, and following him we will hear Mr. Solberg.
STATEMENT OF LAWRENCE B. EVANS, WASHINGTON, D. C.
Mr. Evans. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I am appearing for the committee of the American Bar Association, the committee on copyright law of the American Bar Association. That association, as you are doubtless aware, is composed of some 24,000 lawyers of the United States, and about a year ago it appointed a special committee on copyright to consider the legislation then pending. That committee has prepared a report. I will not take your time to read the report in full, but I will leave a copy and ask that it be incorporated in your record.
I may say briefly, however, that the report of the committee indorses the principles which are embodied in the Perkins bill. Those principles, briefly summarized, and as understood by the committee, are as follows:
We favor the abolition of all procedural requirements, such as notice, deposit of copies, and registration of claims. In other words, we think literary property should be treated as other property, and that the rights of the owner should not be made dependent upon any procedural formalities. On the other hand, if the owner desires to register his property, it would seem to us wise that provision should be made for voluntary registration.
In the second place we think that the requirements for domestic manufacture should be abolished. Literary property, like other property, should receive full recognition as property, and ownership should not be made dependent upon the place of manufacture.
In the third place, we think that compulsory licensing for the mechanical reproduction of any kind of literary property and any statutory regulation as to fees should be abolished. The owner should have full control of his property. He should be at liberty to negotiate with other persons as to his right to property in any way that he sees fit. It seems to us that compulsory licensing or any
regulation as to fees is incompatible with full recognition of literary property:
In the fourth place, as literary property is property, it should be subject to assignment and the assignee or licensee should have the right to sue in his own name and to protect his interest in that property as he could protect his interest in any other kind of personal property.
And in the fifth place we favor joining the International Copyright Union.
The ideas which I have set before you are explained more fully in this report which I will leave with the committee.
Mr. PERKINS (presiding). The report will be received—I do not suppose the committee wants to incorporate it in the record ?
Mr. Evans. I should like to have it incorporated in the minutes, because there are data given there which I have not presented in my statement.
Mr. PERKINS. Then unless there is objection it will be incorporated in the minutes.
(The paper referred to follows:)
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON COPYRIGHT OF THE AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION
The Constitution, Article I, section 8, provides“The Congress shall have power
to promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."
It will be observed that the only limitation imposed upon the power of Congress to protect the writings of authors is that the exclusive right shall be secured for limited times. There is no other condition.
The formalities which have surrounded the grant of copyright have been purely statutory, have resulted in the erection of an artificial procedure full of pitfalls for the unwary, having nothing to do with the merits of the matter and, as a matter of experience, have proved both expensive and worthless. (See appendix.)
It has been the express purpose of all copyright legislation in all countries, as well as our own, to promote the progress of science and useful arts by encouraging the production of intellectual works.
But perhaps as a matter of custom, or the blind following of precedent, the existence of copyright has come to depend' not so much on the production of an intellectual work as on the literal compliance with a series of procedural formalities. We believe that this notion is not in the spirit of the organic law and ought to be changed. Therefore we think that
(1) Authors should have the exclusive right to their writings without notice, deposit, registration, or any formalities whatever. Domestic manufacture should not be required.
(2) Copyright should be granted in the United States to any author who is a citizen or subject of any country where such protection is granted to any author who is a citizen of the United States.
(3) An author should be defined to be any person to whom any writing or work of literature, music, the drama, or the fine arts owes its origin.
(4) A writing is anything, whether published or unpublished, by which the ideas of the author are given expression.
(5) For the purpose of enumeration but not of limitation, the rights of an author should be set out much as they are in section 12 of the so-called Perkins bill (H. R. 5841).
(6) There should be no compulsory license required of authors, who should be permitted to dispose of and deal in their rights in their absolute discretion. Specifically, we disapprove of the provisions of section 1 (e), the Act of 1909, for compulsory licenses mechanically to reproduce copyright music. We believe that a composer should have the right to dispose of his music, however it may be produced or reproduced, as he may see fit.
(7) Copyright is an intangible right of exclusion, is distinct from the mate rial object, and should be subject to assignment, grant, mortgage, bequest, or
license. The several rights secured should be capable of being separately dealt in by assignment and license as to time, place, and subject matter. An exclusive licensee should be authorized to sue for any invasion of the field in which he has the right of exclusion.
(8) The United States should adhere to the convention creating an international union for the protection of literary and artistic works, known also as the International Copyright Union, signed at Berne, Switzerland, September 9, 1886, and revised at Berlin, Germany, November 13, 1908, and to the “additional protocol " executed at Berne, Switzerland, March 20, 1914.
(9) Upon the adhesion of the United States to the convention, foreign authors, who are citizens or subjects of any country in the Copyright Union, should have in the United States the same rights and remedies which citizens of the United States possess, and for the same period.
Optional registration of copyrights might be permitted. If permitted, the administrative features of H. R. 5841 are appropriate.
Assignments and licenses are a matter of contract. There can be no objection to providing how they may be made and proved. As a convenience and to preserve title papers, the means of recording such instruments might well be continued as in the past, but as the author's rights are property, they can be dealt with like any other property, as a matter of general law.
Any copyright act should, of course, contain means of enforcing the rights secured. Some slight changes may be desirable in the existing law, but not many. The present law, in this respect, has worked well.
Subject to minor clerical changes in the interest of clearness, we believe that H. R. 5841 embodies the foregoing principles and should receive the indorsement of this committee.
LAWRENCE B. EVANS.
EVERETT N. CURTIS, Vice Chairman.
The chairman of the committee put the following questions to the Register of Copyrights. The answers received follow the questions.
Question. 1. What relation does the number of copyrights which are the subject of litigation bear to the total number of copyright entries?
Answer. The total number of copyright claims registered in this office from July 8, 1870, to June 30, 1925, is estimated at 4,141,529. The actual registrations made between the 1st of July 1897, and the 30th of June last amount to 3,260,673 recorded claims. During this period from 1897 to 1925 inclusive the actual reported cases amount to less than 300, a very small percentage of the recorded claims. No doubt there were a certain number of copyright disputes not reported but they could hardly have amounted to many hundreds, so that it is at least quite safe to assume that out of this more than three and one-quarter million registrations not 1,000 have ever come into court.
Question. 2. How frequently are the copies deposited for copyright withdrawn or consulted for use as evidence, or otherwise, in litigation ?
Answer. The deposited copies are occasionally examined. No exact figures are available, but removals from the files because of litigation would not amount to more than 100 per year. Not above five cases are known where copies deposited between the period 1870 to date have been removed in order to be taken into court for use as evidence or otherwise in litigation.
Question. 3. Is the storage or custody of copyright deposits an expense or a burden, and can you give us an estimate of the approximate cost?
Answer. The articles deposited since 1870 amount to a very large total; the actual number from July 1, 1897, to June 30, 1925, is 3,556,591. These deposits occupy a very considerable shelf and closet space. It is necessary to keep them in an exact order in accordance with the class of article and the registration number. The current proper handling of these deposits requires a force of clerks drawing nearly $10,000 annual salary. It has twice been necessary to move this entire collection and rearrange it, which involved a service cost of many thousands of dollars.
Question. 4. Do you know what has been the experience of countries where entry and deposit is not required?
Answer. There has been no requirement of obligatory copyright deposit abroad as a condition of copyright protection for a long period of years. That no serious embarrassment has resulted seems deducible from the absence of any proposals to legislate to compel deposit of copies. In 1908 when the International Copyright Convention was revised the proposal to grant copyright without any conditions or formalities—thus abolishing registration of copyright claims---was felt likely to lead to considerable litigation; but a carefully kept record of international copyright cases in the copyright bureau at Berne discloses only 88 copyright law suits of an international character in the 18 countries of the Copyright Union from 1910 to 1919 inclusive.
Question. 5. Where, as in England, it has recently been dispensed with, do you know if there is any disposition to restore it?
Answer. Copyright registration was abolished in Great Britain by the copyright act of 1911. There has been some suggestion that it might be desrable to resume copyright registration in London. Optional registration is now permitted and may be made at Stationers' Hall, but an examination of the record books for such registrations as were made in 1924 indicated that a large percentage of the entries were mad by American claimants desiring copyright protection in Great Britain and who possibly were unaware that registration was no longer necessary.
Question. 6. What relation does the number of assignments which have been received and recorded in the Copyright Office bear to the number of copyright entries?
Answer. Since July 1, 1897, the total number of assignments up to June 30, 1925, which have been received and recorded amount to a little less than 30,000—in other words, an average of a little over 1,000 each year. This for the same period during which three and one-quarter million claims of copyright were recorded.
Question. 7. Do you know of any data from which could be estimated the benefit to the printing or publishing trades of the provisions of the copyright act requiring domestic manufacture?
Answer. We have no data for determining the practical benefit to the printing trades of the typesetting requirement. It would be of great advantage if an examination and report could be arranged for under the auspices perhaps of the Department of Commerce.
Mr. WEIL. Can I ask the chairman if he will ask Mr. Evans what his attitude is on the Vestal bill?
Mr. PERKINS. What is your attitude on the Vestal bill? You see, the principal hearings have been on the Vestal bill, and the committee would like to have you state your attitude on that bill.
Mr. Evans. On that bill we have not had a meeting. When our committee was in session we considered the Perkins bill, and we made our recommendations on the basis of the provisions of that bill.
Mr. PERKINS. So that, so far as the Vestal bill is concerned, you do not say one thing or the other?
Mr. Evans. No. However, we do stand by the principles which I have just tried to state.
Mr. Perkins. Thank you very much. Now, we will hear Mr. Solberg STATEMENT OF THORVALD SOLBERG, REGISTER OF COPYRIGHTS,
WASHINGTON, D. C.
Mr. SOLBERG. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, copyright bills have been introduced at this session. The number and variety of these bills surely indicate a widespread interest in the subject of copyright legislation and a feeling that amendatory copy' right legislation is called for.