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Now, members of this committee have been sitting for years literally on questions involving the right of canned music and radio to have the use of certain rights by paying certain stipulated small sums of money. The point I desire to make with reference to the opposition of radio and canned music and hotel men, cabarets, motion-picture associations, to this bill, is this: Those do not involve the large rights or the major rights of any composer or dramatist; not at all. Take an author who, we say, makes $10,000, a musical-comedy man; suppose he makes $10,000 or $20,000—I do not know what he makes out of his royalties out of the musical comedy for which he composed his melodies. That is a major right. Suppose he gets a share of $75,000 that is paid by a motion-picture house, to produce upon the screen this very successful musical comedy. That is a major right. Now, Mr. Chairman, as compared with that money, which he goes after first, last, and all the time; as compared with that money, the $2.50 or $10 or $50 that he may collect during the course of a year from the small rightsthose sums are insignificant.
Now, shall we wreck a copyright bill which involves the important rights of every author and the rights of very important interests, because some very powerful, some very large interests are fighting with composers over small rights?
Mr. BLOOM. To the composer, aren't they just as large a right as the author would have in the motion-picture right? Doesn't that mean a great deal to him?
Mr. OSBORNE. An author—we will take a case where he will make $5,000 out of a magazine for his serial rights. If his book is popular he will make $7,500 or $10,000 out of his book, and if it is that popular, he will get probably $25,000 for his motion-picture rights. Those are not small rights.
Mr. Bloom. No; but the scenario right, the right to the mechanical instrument or canned music, as you call it, isn't that a major right to him, the reproduction on a mechanical instrument !
Mr. OSBORNE. I will say this, Congressman, we are basically opposed to any price fixing in connection with authors and composers. It involves a principle.
Mr. Bloom. In other words, you are against compulsory license?
Mr. OSBORNE. Absolutely. There is no question about it, but I am comparing this controversy over compulsory license or very small rights with the major rights which the composer or dramatist has. Now, I say that the opponents of this bill, librarians and these people talking about minor rights, although they may spend hours and days before you, although they may wrangle over a very important principle, as a matter of fact they are talking about a comparatively small proportion of this bill, and though you will find probably that the proponents of this bill will take but a very short time, yet the proponents of this bill deal with those interests of an author which are important to the author.
Now, Mr. Chairman, I would like to reserve the right to answer any questions or to reply to any points made by any opponents at any future time. Maj. George Haven Putnam, who started in to fight copyright battles in the year 1896, and is here still fighting them, has to get back to New York. He is chairman of the National Association of Book Publishers, and I ask that he may be heard next. STATEMENT OF GEORGE HAVEN PUTNAM, CHAIRMAN OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BOOK PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK CITY
Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I have been coming before your honorable body for 41 years, and I am afraid some of you gentlemen are too young to remember some of those earlier arguments in behalf of copyrights. I have been representing during those years the joint committees of authors and publishers, or coming for the publishers' association and have been representing the publishers and their clients, the authors.
During that time we have asked for nothing in the shape of privilege, nothing that was in any way exceptional. We have been trying to get from 1885 on a copyright statute that should be consistent with the principles of copyright, the main principle being to give to the author and to his assignee the exclusive control of his property, and which, in that respect, should be in line with the English copyright statute, which has to do more nearly with conditions similar to those in this country than the statute of any other country, and to which we can therefore refer as a very proper model.
As has been made clear by yourself, Mr. Chairman, and by the representative of the authors' league, you have here for consideration two bills which have been described in part, the bill bearing your own honored name and the bill for which the register of copyrights I believe is mainly responsible, which bears the name of Mr. Perkins. Both of these bills begin with the same general statement which belongs to the general statement of all copyright statutes.
The author and his assignee are given the exclusive control of the property produced, the advantage for its sale, and all arrangements in connection with it. The Vestal bill leaves that exclusive control undisturbed. It is consistent throughout with the principles of copyright and with the English statute of to-day.
In the Perkins bill that exclusive control, so-called, is whittled down by a series of exceptions, which take away in large part the property value from the people who have created it, the author with his investment and the publisher with the publisher's investment. The purpose of these exceptions in the Perkins bill, which make a travesty of copyright and the exclusive property control, is in line with the purposes of all who have made objection either at the time we originally shaped the copyright statute in this country in 1789, or at the time of the international copyright or the kind of objections that were submitted at the hearing here on the 5th instant by people who wanted the right to appropriate the property produced by other people without compensation or with an inconsiderable compensation to be fixed by themselves. The opponents of this exclusive copyright or control of book material are on precisely the same ground as the radiomen and the mechanical musical men who want the right to use other people's property without paying for it. It is the same principle of taking away the rights of the producer.
Holding to your own contention, Mr. Chairman, a very sensible one, for shortening the time necessary for consideration, I will emphasize in my own words only two points in which the differences are the most important between the Vestal bill and the Perkins bill. In the Vestal bill the property in the extended term of copyright—the extension of term is in itself desirable—that property is left where it belongs, with the author or the author's representative in case the copyright is still the property of the author. In case the book has been published, on a royalty basis, for instance, the continuing property right will accrue just on the same lines as those which have been enforced for the original rights.
But in the Vestal bill it is provided that in case the property in the copyright original term is vested in the publisher, in case the publisher has bought the book outright, in case it has been written for the publisher on a commission or a fixed payment, for instance in the case of a text book, your bill provides that in that case the property in the extended term shall be the joint ownership of the publisher owning the original term and the author or the author's representative who has a legitimate interest in this newly created property.
In the Perkins bill the entire property in that extended term, in the copyright of that extended term, is handed over to the author or the author's representative and in the case, after years have passed of a book which has been purchased outright by the publisher, which if it is an educational book, may have been revised and usually has been to keep up to date, with renewed expenditures by the publisher and in which substantial investments have been made to secure introductions I am speaking particularly of textbooks—that entire property value and an increased property value, a property which has involved an increased investment, is handed over not to an author even, who would have some knowledge of his original obligation, but in the ordinary contingencies of life to some distant heir of the author, who is then in a position to come to the publisher and say, “I am the owner of the copyright of this extended term and unless you pay me a penalty price you must stop the publication of that book."
That is taking property without consideration. It is a heedless wording of this Perkins bill, a wording which shows a lack of knowledge of book production and distribution, and your bill provides properly enough that there shall be a new agreement for this extended term between the author or the author's representative and the publisher.
The other essential point which the book publishers and their clients, the authors, are interested in is that having to do with the importation of books which have secured copyright in this country.
Mr. Osborne has referred to the essential statement or bearing of that clause as covered by three lines. I need hardly point out to you gentlemen that the importance of a provision or statement or obligation is not limited by the number of lines. It is what is covered in the transfer of property or the appropriation of property. It is the contention of the book publishers speaking for themselves and for their clients, the authors, that the exclusive control given under the first section of the law should give to the publisher who has bought this American market the exclusive control of the sale in this market of the book in question.
Now, there are various objections made principally by the librarians to that very simple contention, which I point out is not asking
for a privilege, but it is simply asking for a consistent application of the law.
One is that the publishers who control the copyright of a transatlantic book, of an English book, and have a right to the control of the market, might put an exceptional price on that book, might make it too dear for the convenience of the average librarian or the average individual. That is, they reason a man owning a piece of property may make a food of himself, but in the ordinary course of business if he has property that he wants to sell, competing property, a book which competes with other books of the same character, he will put it at the price that will bring the largest possible net return, and the publishers know that as far as books are concerned, that is the lowest price particularly for this American market of impecunious readers, the least price that gives any return on the mannifacturing costs.
Further, the American publishers have always been in control of books produced by American authors. There has been no ground for saying that they have made extortionate prices for those books. They are managed on ordinary business competition, and it is as absurd to contend that the publishers would try to get extortionate prices for books of English authors of which they had bought the American copyright, as it is to believe that they have been placing extortionate prices on books by American authors for the American market of which there has been no question of control.
A further suggestion is made and it is an immemorial right. Well, it is an immemorial right that goes back to 1891 to import in this country books the copyright of which is controlled in this country by an American publisher. It has been an injustice throughout those years, an increasing injustice, increasing in its disadvantage to the business of the American publishers, the American book manufacturers. It is working serious detriment to the publishing business. It is contrary to the interests of buyers of books in this country, who are interested in having publishing investments encouraged and not discouraged, and the mere fact that it has been going on for a term of years is no answer for the demand for a change from this injustice. When the first copyright bill was brought up in 1879 the suggestion was made that a copyright would mean a monopoly and it would be against the interests of the regular readers of books if such encouragement was given. The objection was made in 1886 on to 1891, when we were trying to put our international copyright bill through, that readers must not have their interests interfered with, and we finally made it clear, after six years of labor, to the Congress of that day, that unless there could be encouragement given for the investment in American editions of trans-Atlantic books, the American readers would not get trans-Atlantic books. When that was made clear the international copyright measure was passed.
While there has been that increase in difficulty since 1891, the conditions now proposed are going to make that difficulty very much larger and the disadvantage to American business interests very much greater. It is now proposed to bring the United States into the convention of Berne, both your bill and the Perkins bill are as one in that matter, and the publishers, while they real
ize that the acceptance of the regulations of the convention of Berne will mean the admission in this country of the books of their competitors in English editions, for their competitors the English publishers must subject them, the American publishers, to very sharp increased competition.
We are not prepared to raise any objection to the acceptance by the United States of the convention of Bern. We realize that the United States, as a great literature-producing nation, should take its place in the commerce of nations with respect to this matter, but we point out that with that increased competition with the English publishers given under the law or the regulation of the Bern convention, accepted by American statutes, the right to occupy this American market with English editions of the books of which they have bought the copyrights, we simply contend, we American publishers, that we must be left in the full control of that American market for the trans-Atlantic books, more particularly the English books, of which we have bought the copyright.
The English publisher pays a full price for the copyright of a book to be controlled in Great Britain, and the American publisher pays a similar price for the copyright of a book to be controlled in the American market. The English publisher has an absolute control of his own market, keeping out the American edition, as he can do under the law, and I have here vouchers to show that is done under the practical application of the law, and has, nevertheless, the right under the present conditions and the conditions under the Perkins bill, to occupy this market also, even though the American publisher has bought this market, with the transAtlantic edition of the book in question.
That is an injustice to the publisher who has made the investment. It is an injustice to the English author, because if he can only sell a defective title, if he can not give a full title to the American market, he necessarily secures a smaller return for his labor. It is an injustice to the American buyer of books, because the books controlled here in an imported edition is never as thoroughly pubJished—advertised, brought to the attention of librarians and others throughout the country-never as thoroughly published as if it were sold here in an American edition, and it is a disadvantage to the manufacturing interests, who have a right to be considered in connection with the production of American books.
That disadvantage has existed since 1891, and becomes enormously increased when the market is thrown open under the Bern convention, and the American publishers are simply asking not for any special privilege, the privilege of appropriating other people's property, whether it be demanded by American publishers or canned music men, is a very fine privilege to acquire, but it is not in accord with justice and it should not take place in any American statute. We simply ask for the right to control the sales in this country when we have bought the copyright and when we have manufactured the editions here we claim the right to control the market for those editions.
There is a further objection, which is entitled to consideration, that the librarians and individuals, particularly collectors, may on one ground or another prefer the transatlantic edition. That preference should be considered.