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The librarians object to the provisions that we have inserted in this bill for the purpose of meeting their difficulty. I may say that the English statute is perfectly explicit. The importation into Great Britain, whether by librarians or by anybody else, of a book the English copyright of which has been duly secured, is prohibited, and there is no exception-the exceptions that we are trying to make in order to meet the views of the librarians.
I have here a batch of correspondence with English librarians and with English publishers. Mr. Wright, of the Great London Library, writes: "The law is perfectly explicit, as I told you when you called. If we want an American edition for any purpose of a book which has been copyrighted in Great Britain, whether an English or an American book, we go to the owner of the copyright and we import that copy through him." There is no provision in the law to that effect; it is merely an implication that there would be no difficulty. In talking with Mr. Wright on this matter, I said, "If Mr. Murray has purchased the English copyright of an American book and is publishing an-English edition and you for some reason or other, perhaps because it is cheaper in order to get the American edition, would you feel yourself free to order that sent by mail?" "Why, Major," he said, "why should I do that? The book is the property of Mr. Murray. He has made his investment in it. He has presented the book to the public, he has made it known, he has brought about a demand; why should I interfere with his property rights?"
That is the view taken of property rights by librarians in England—a little different standard from that obtaining here.
Then the question comes up of the larger costs that American publishers will pay-I referred to that in part before-upon American editions of English work of which they have secured the copyright, and figures have been distributed showing the difference in the American prices and the English prices of certain books. All the lists that I have seen of these books have been lists of books in imported editions, and even those have made no allowance for the duty and for the freight-the duty being an important item. The only contention that we are making is for the exclusive control of books manufactured in this country for which the American publishers have secured the copyright. That is the condition, sir, of your bill.
As the books printed in this country are, as will be shown to you later by Mr. Melcher and others he has a long series of figures-in the great majority of cases lower in price than the English editions of the same book. I have here one example, a volume of the Cambridge History of English Literature, a 14-volume edition. The American price for that set is $49, and the English price is $87.50, and the book that I hold in my hand here is as well printed and a great deal better bound than the English issues. That is merely one. I will leave those examples to be presented by Mr. Melcher. It is a convenience, the librarian says, for him to have a standing order with his English selling agents and not to make any exception to that order. When this book here was published, a large undertaking, we invested $35,000 in the set and our travelers went about and interviewed not only booksellers but librarians, and the librarian takes his note of the matter. "Yes," he said, "I shall need that for
my library. I shall place the order for it in London." We have made the investment, we have the risk, the labor of making the book known, and then the protection is given not to the American publisher, not to the producer, not to the book-manufacturing interests here, but to the British selling agents.
I do not believe in protection for the fellow across the Atlantic against the interests of the American producer. I think that is rather a lopsided protection, and that is what happens, because the librarians find it a convenience to leave standing orders in London and not be bothered with making exceptions to those orders.
The librarian's statement, which I have in my hand here, says that the librarians want the same rights that they have everywhere. Mr. BLOOM. When you say "librarian" do you mean by that the librarian of the private library?
Mr. PUTNAM. This statement is issued by the representative of the librarians' association.
Mr. BLOOM. But you did not mean the librarian at the Copyright Office here?
Mr. PUTNAM. I have nothing to do with the librarians here. I am speaking of the librarians' association, speaking their their representative who has been authorized to speak for them, and he in this distributed typewritten statement of which I have a copy states that the libraries everywhere following out that privilege.
That is a misstatement, Mr. Chairman. I have quoted you the status in England, which is the only country really that concerns us. Mr. BLOOM. I just wanted to get that straight for the record. Mr. PUTNAM. It should be straight for the record. I am very much obliged to you. I will not take the time of your committee to bring out these vouchers. The reading of the English law is explicit. The letters here from the librarians and the publishers are quite clear. The American publisher who wants to put into England a copy of the book which has been copyrighted there by an English publisher would have no standing. He could not get in. The limitation here in the Perkins bill that only copies of authorized editions shall come in does not meet the requirements of justice. An edition may be authorized and yet may not be properly available in a different market. The Townett edition, for instance, is authorized for the Continent. That is all we know. Nobody can take into England a copy of a Townett edition of a book, whether English or American, which has been copyrighted in Great Britain. The English author has the right to sell his market separately, and it is only in that way that he can secure the full returns for his market; and, when I speak of the appropriation of property, when the English author is forbidden to sell his American market his property right is taken away from him; and when that American market, which the American publisher has made a large investment in, is invaded from the other side, his property is taken away without compensation.
The English author is in the position of a person wanting to sell an acre of land but being obliged to admit that other people have the right to camp upon it without compensation to the owner: "I am sorry, but that is the condition." Well, we all know that he would not get a very large price for that acre of land.
That is the position in which the English author now is, that he can not sell a clear title to his American market, and that is the position which is to be confirmed if the terms of the bill should become law.
That is not consistent. It is not consistent with our treaty obligations with Great Britain. I was in Great Britain in 1891, when we put through the copyright treaty with Great Britain. Dear old Robert Lincoln did not know very much about the matter, and Mr. Bryce, as he then was-Lord Bryce-managed the matter for England, and I managed it for America. We agreed under that treaty to give to English authors the same rights in this country that American authors were to have in Great Britain. We have not done it. It is a breach of treaty obligation. The American selling his market to the English publisher sells him a market with full control and gets all the praise that his book is entitled to. The English author selling his market to an American publisher, under the conditions of the present law, unjust in itself and to be perpetuated if the Perkins bill becomes a law, sells a faulty title; and if it is a book addressed particularly to the interests of libraries, like this Cambridge literature, all the title that he can convey is seriously invaded as to value; and it is my own belief, as to the regulations in the Bern convention and I was in Europe when the copyright conference was adopted prohibiting any discrimination against the authors—instead of all authors in the country accepting the Bern convention on the same basis I believe that that discrimination against the English author, if this Perkins bill became a law, might ordinarily, if it came to the attention of the legal advisers of the Bern convention, prevent our membership being accepted, when we are taking all of this labor in order to put the United States in on a stabilized basis.
We are asking you, gentlemen, simply for a consistent copyright law. We want that privilege and we want no privilege to be enjoyed by other people for appropriating the property of our clients, the authors, or of the publishing interests in this country. I thank you.
Mr. BLOOM. Just one question. Do you believe that section 61, with reference to the entry of the United States into the International Copyright Union, as outlined in this bill, is sufficient to allow the United States to enter into the Bern convention or International Copyright Union-the wording of it?
Mr. PUTNAM. I thinlt it should be sufficient, unless objection be raised, under the clause that I have just referred to, to the fact that the United States statute alone among the copyright statutes makes any discrimination between the authors of different countries. The rest of the wording seems to me probably adequate, as far as I can judge.
The representative of the author's league calls my attention to the matter that he wants me to make clear by a word, which I surely thought I had made clear by implication. The publishers have from the outset worked with the authors in these conferences and are prepared to give their cordial support to the Vestal bill, and in all the previous copyright conferences held in this country, which have resulted in shaping the copyright law, the authors and the publishers have worked together, and I have myself been authorized from time to time to come to Washington representing the joint committee of
authors and publishers. That is our theory, Mr. Chairman, of the interests of literary property in which the publishers are the business representatives of their clients, the authors, and the only criticism. I have to make of my friend, Mr. Osborn, is his suggestion that because a statement is contained in three lines it may not constitute an important interference with justice and of property rights.
Mr. BLOOM. The authors agree with you in your statement with reference to the assignment of these copyrights and extensions of copyrights?
Mr. PUTNAM. We have had no question other than agreement on those matters. The extension of copyright was talked over very carefully with the authors.
Mr. BLOOM. As outlined in this bill?
Mr. PUTNAM. As outlined in this bill, yes, sir: and as the joint ownership extended term represents, as Mr. Osborn agrees with me, the fair equitable division of that new property as between. authors and book publishers.
The CHAIRMAN. Major Putnam,. do I understand that it is the contention of the librarian that if this bill is passed, it would curtail their right to obtain books for the library published in England or in foreign countries? That is, that if this bill was passed, they might be compelled to pay a larger price, a higher price for the book published in foreign countries than they would have to pay at this time for their libraries?
Mr. PUTNAM. If the gentlemen will look at the clause of the importation provision in the bill, they will realize that the publishers have endeavored to meet the doubt or apprehension of the libraries on that point.
The CHAIRMAN. That is the very thing I was leading up to.
Mr. PUTNAM. You are quite right, sir. They are authorized to get the foreign edition if upon any ground the foreign edition better meets their requirements. The only restriction is that the order shall be placed through the publisher who controls the American copyright, and on the question of cost we have even taken the pains to put into this bill the provision that the book shall be delivered to them by that importing publisher, the owner of the American copyright, at a price no higher than it would cost, the librarian to make the purchase direct from London, and we put, in further, in response to a criticism, "Oh, well, the importing publisher might refuse or he might delay," that if he refused or if he delays for even 10 days,. that then the order can be placed direct, as it is authorized to be done in the Perkins bill.
But we agree that those details are hardly germane to copyright law. The consistency in the copyright law is what I have quoted from the English law, absolute prohibition, and arrangements have to be made individually. We put those clauses in for the purpose of meeting the fear of the librarians that they were going to be pre-vented from getting the transatlantic edition, or of collectors. Collectors have been ordering English editions of our publications for years. There is not any trouble about that, only they come to us as the owner of the copyright of those books.
If the libraries object to these provisions, if they point out that there is more detail than properly belongs in a copyright statute,.
as far as the book publishers are concerned, we are quite ready to have those provisions taken out and leave the matter for arrangement between the man, the librarian, or other individual, who wants to import, and the owner of the American copyright, which is the English method to-day. The collector has his right, and there is no difficulty in having that right secured to him, but even under the present statute everybody can import the foreign edition-libraries, associations, incorporated or not incorporated, or individuals-and there is no limit to the number of copies to be imported, and it means that copyright, as far as the American statute is concerned, would become a travesty.
I leave it there, Mr. Chairman, unless there are questions.
some other Mr. GOODWIN. I have a letter here from the largest library in my district, in which the librarian says this:
As libraries must always be economically administered, books must be parchased at the lowest possible price. The clause in section 31, line 1, “in the country of origin," and (a) second half, beginning with the word "provided," and (b) should be exercised in the interest of libraries. Section 31 makes a purchase of English books from abroad a most time-wasting and annoying process. Each title to be ordered must first be submitted to the copyright office to ascertain whether the book has been reprinted in America during the past 50 years. If so, the American publisher must be consulted to see if it is still in stock. Then the book may be ordered.
Is that a correct statement of the situation that would prevail if the Vestal bill is enacted into law?
Mr. PUTNAM. It is a little overstrained. In substance it is correct. There is no difficulty in learning from the weekly list what books have been published in this country. Bear in mind, sir, the whole requirement has to do with books promptly after publication, which are listed regularly, week by week, just as the American books are. We are only contending that the English and American books should be placed on the same basis. Of course, it may be thought necessary to make an inquiry at Washington, but that is academic. It is not a matter of practical business at all. The weekly list tells any intelligent librarian--and of course the librarian in your district is an intelligent librarian-what books have been placed in the market by the American publisher. It is a routine matter.
I would add, Mr. Chairman, in answer to this question, that statements have been made by scientific societies, college presidents, and what not, against the idea that the American publisher should be left in control of the American market when he bought the copyright, that their importation of scientific things from abroad would beinterfered with. The president of a college is not naturally cognizant of law, and he would not realize that the things that they want, elaborate scientific publications, are always sold here in the foreign editions. It does not pay to reprint them, and therefore the exclusion does not apply to that at all. There has been a good deal of misleading information given to the presidents of colleges and officers of scientific societies on that point.
Mr. OSBORNE. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Matthew Woll is here, the vicepresident of the American Federation of Labor, and we desire him to be heard in support of the Vestal bill.