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I am going to tell you what happened to the “ Phoebe and Ernest” stories in regard to the moving pictures. The American Magazine published 23 of those stories. In brief, they covered the adolescence of a young girl and a young boy, taking a generation in the life of a family.
After they had been long published I received an offer from a moving-picture house to buy those stories. I immediately wrote the American Magazine and they told me that they had long ago sold them to another moving-picture concern. They were quite within their rights; there had been no arrangement between author and moving-picture house, so that they had a perfect right to do that. They were not the least bit dishonorable about it; but, so far as I know, nothing has ever been done with those stories which ended in the magazines in about 1912, and so, as far as I am concerned, they are absolutely unproductive in both money and kudos.
As I say, the moving picture proved to be as revolutionary an invention, as far as we were concerned, as the invention of printing: Now comes another invention, even more startling—the matter of the radio. A few months ago I had occasion to speak over the radio. My engagement was at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. I got there a few minutes early and was talking with the young man who introduced the speakers, and I said, “ Of course, at this hour, there will be nobody listening really, will there?" He said, “There is no hour in
“ the day or night when you will have less than a quarter of a million listeners. A few months ago," he continued, we made an addition to the mechanical apparatus of the radio. We wanted to try it out, so that we chose the late hours of the night or the early hours of the morning, so that if it did not go there would be the least possible confusion. We preceded the trying out of this new apparatus by an invitation over the radio at that hour, to whoever heard the results of this new bit of mechanical machinery, to write us or 'phone us what their experiences were, and then we went ahead. It happened to be highly successful.” Now you understand this was between the hours of 1 and 5 in the morning, nearer 5 than 1. He said, “For one week we received six thousand letter daily and we received so many telephone messages that finally the New York Telephone Co. appealed to us to broadcast a message asking the people to stop sending in these telephone messages, because we were putting such a crimp in the whole telephone system of New York.”
I tell you all that because perhaps you have not realized those things as I have. I found myself wondering who that enormous audience was, who listened to the radio at that hour. Well, I suppose they include people like ourselves who, coming from the theater or the movie, or a dance, say, “Let us see what is on the air tonight," and we discover there is something quite enchanting and suddenly we look at the clock and discover it is long past our bed hour. Then I suppose it includes convalescents and perhaps definitely sick people, people troubled with insomnia. The period may come when there will be a radio in every hotel room—one loud enough to keep those of us awake who want to stay awake, and one soft enough to put those to sleep who want to go asleep. There is practically no calculation as to where this enormous and unforeseen force is taking us.
That being the case, how is it going to affect the author? It is very likely it is going to affect the author very, very, much; even perhaps more definitely than the stage and the movies. Of course, at present, it seems as though it was mainly music that comes to us over the radio; but we all know about the bed-time stories and we all know, probably, by this time, that little plays are put on occasionally over the radio. The time is coming, of course, when arrangements are going to be made for those people who like to be read to, and then the world of the magazine and the world of books is open to the radio to use as they please. Take, for instance, the writings of George Ade, beautifully adapted for short brief readings over the radio. Much of the poetry that is printed in our magazines, a great many stories, especially of the kind that lend themselves to reading—Mr. Wile's short stories on the negro, Mr. Wallace Irwin's stories on the Japanese schoolboy—beautifuuly adapted, with people of ability in that direction, to entertainment of that enormous unseen audience.
Also, another element enters into this—the serialized novel which has a more or less exciting plot. The radio people can take the first magazine off the press and read over the radio the installments of that story, thereby killing the sale of a great many magazines and perhaps ultimately of a great many books. This bill in which we are all so interested will take care of that matter.
My husband said to you that to get along with the old copyright bill was a little like compelling Washington to put into execution the traffic laws which were made before the automobile was invented. Foresight is better than hindsight. This bill is trying to take care of a situation as far as the radio is concerned before it comes up. It is as though we started now, knowing that ultimately the air is going to be full of airplanes dropping monkey wrenches and cans of oil down on our heads—as though we started now to begin to chart those great air avenues, to prevent the inevitable mixup, misapprehension, horrible accidents, disgrace, that will inevitably happen
if we do not think of it in time. Mr. LANHEIM. A bill of that character passed the House within the last week with reference to the regulation of airplanes and air lanes.
Mrs. Irwin. I think that is a very, very good argument why you should pass our bill; because if you can take care of the airplanes, you can take care of our books.
Mr. Bloom. Mrs. Irwin, there is now before the Senate and the House a bill which aims to amend the copyright law of the present time and to add section F to section E, giving the radio people the right, in a certain way, to use magazines. Now, in section D of the copyright bill, that applies only to writings of the authorbooks and stories, such as you say. Then you say that if they at times take the music, they would eventually want the same right for books and writings, and if they did take that, you believe it would injure the rights and the value of those stories and books and plays of the authors?
Mrs. IRWIN. Unquestionably, I should say.
Mr. Bloom. And if they do get the right to broadcast music, according to this bill, that is proposed, and they are successful in that, they would eventually want to use writings and plays and books.
Mrs. IRWIN. Without question.
Mr. LANHAM. You think that would give an added publicity, but decreased revenue ?
Mrs. Irwin. Yes; I think the publicity value of it can not be exaggerated.
Mr. Bloom. But you can not live on publicity ?
Mr. OSBORNE. Mr. Chairman, one of the foremost of o’r artists, an all-round artist at that, in the Authors League, is Mr. John J. Murphy, who is here and, when he has spoken, that will be the last one of the Authors League I shall call upon, except possibly tomorrow Mrs. Alice Duer Miller, who has come down specially to make a few remarks. I will now call on Mr. John J. Murphy. Mr. Bloom. Why do you say to-morrow?
Mr. OSBORNE. I meant at the next hearing; I am not trying to usurp the function of the committee.
STATEMENT OF JOHN J. A. MURPHY
Mr. MURPHY. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my words will be few and short. They are of appreciation for the bill as it now stands and I bring to you the complete enthusiasm of my fellow craftsmen for the bill as it now stands.
There are two points in which we are vitally interested in the bill, so much so that, as you are aware, I am here to express my appreciation of it. The two points are, first, the point that makes absolute the copyright upon the completion of the work by the author. Under the present law, an artist has to go to considerable trouble to copyright whatever he may produce. That has given rise to a great many abuses which we feel are well taken care of in this present bill and, of course, as it is one of our great considerations, we naturally are interested in the fact it is in the bill.
The other point, which is even of greater importance, is the one that extends the copyright limit. Under the present bill, as we understand it, a picture produced by an artist may be copyrighted for 28 years, with an option of renewal for 28 years. That also can be and is wholly unintentionally greatly abused. The newer consideration of giving the artist a life interest in what he produces is, I feel sure, a matter of just common sense to you. There is no reason why, if a man produces a work of art, or a work of any kind, he should not have an absolute right in it as long as he lives. Under the Constitution, I understand, of course, if an artist creates a work of any kind, for the right of protection the State says that “in 56 years you must return it to us as common property.” I would like, in one or two sentences, to point out just how unfair that is from a purely business point of view.
Before that, I might say I am here as the representative of the Guild of Freelance Artists. It is the only organization of its kind in the country which influences the commercial opinion of artists. It was formed mainly and solely for the purpose of protecting the commercial activities of the artists. Up to this time most of our societies and guilds have been things of purely esthetic consideration. We are here to record our appreciation of this bill, because it, in this clause on which I am saying my few words, takes care of what we understand are only commercial considerations.
Under the bill, which we are in favor of, which is Mr. Vestal's bill, the artist has a life interest in his own work plus a 50-year interest for his heirs. If I may point out of what interest that is to us, it is this, that in nearly any other business (and understand at the moment I am referring to art in this instance as a business, considering it purely as a business), a man is at perfect liberty to will his property, if he has any, to his heirs. Under the present copyright act the artist, if he lives for 56 years, has no property, in that sense to give to his heirs. In other words, if that man's creations increased in value after he died, although during his life he had made nothing at all out of them, the copyright would pass into the hands of people who had absolutely no interest in protecting his family. In other words, the family can be absolutely destitute while the property left behind, just for the sake of figures, may climb into the millions or might be anything. So the reason why we are so enthusiastic about this bill is simply because we feel it is the first time, really, nationally speaking, any vital interest has been taken in the creative productions of certain units in the community. To my mind, really that simple process, that simple clause, is a historical fact; it is, in my experience, the first time a nation has really considered it from that point of view.
France, as you know, at the present time, is so agitated on the subject that they have taken it outside of the hands of the copyright law, and they intend doing a very similar thing in another way. They hope to be able to control the property of the artist a number of years after he has died by collecting a tax on every sale of the artist's property. For instance, if any of you bought a canvas to-day for $40,000 or $50,000 or $10,000, and sold it to-morrow, we will say, at a profit of $10,000, the State would collect for the heirs in France a certain percentage, the amount of which they have not determined as yet. But that is the attitude the French are taking toward it. I just bring that up as a slight point to show you how other minds may be considering it, and we are highly enthusiastic about the present bill
. I find in it nothing that, as artists, we can object to. While sitting here this morning I understood that the librarians, perhaps, had a slight point of attack. Of course, I am not familiar with just what the point is; but I would like to say it does seem just a little strained to me and quite illogical to hold up a bill that to me has 99 per cent (if we consider theirs as 1 per cent) good points about it. We might really, if we wished to follow that through and see where it arrived logically, say that a few librarians for the sake of buying a few books for $5 or $10 cheaper per year would discourage the creative element of the community; but you can just draw your own conclusion from it.
Mr. Bloom. You think this bill covers the artists sufficiently!
Mr. MURPHY. I think this bill covers the artists sufficiently to the point of considering the compromising with every other aspect we have had to do in this bill.
Mr. Bloom. I will read one clause-section 15, I guess, is the one to which you refer-section 15, page 15, line 12. I want to ask your
opinion; I will read it to you and ask your opinion whether this covers you or not.
Mr. MURPHY. May I ask you the section?
Mr. BLOOM. Page 15, line 12:
"In case of an unauthorized newspaper reproduction of a copyrighted photograph, such statutory damages assessed," etc.
Now, in saying "of a copyrighted photograph," would that cover all of the artists who belong to your guild; or do you think it ought to be broadened and include the other things mentioned besides photographs?
Mr. MURPHY. Of course, I do not quite understand your question. Mr. BLOOM. In case of an unauthorized newspaper reproduction of a copyrighted photograph
Mr. MURPHY. Yes.
Mr. BLOOM. Is that sufficient to cover the artists? This says a copyrighted photograph, but it does not say anything else. Mr. LANHAM. Here is the first one over on page 14.
Mr. BLOOM. This is for statutory damages.
Mr. HESS. The statutory damages are on page 14, line 17.
Mr. BLOOM. But I am asking Mr. Murphy whether some other words that would describe the artist's work should not go in there besides "photographs." Do you think that would cover it?
Mr. MURPHY. Is not the phrase one that simply means solely the right to copyright a photograph?
Mr. BLOOM. It means a photograph.
Miss SILLCOX. This is a limitation on the artist's recovery; it is not really what he shall recover.
Mr. BLOOM. But it speaks only of the copyrighted photograph. What I am trying to point out is whether some other words should not go in there as well as "photograph "; should it not also say "painting or etching," etc.?
Mr. PERKINS. Are not the other words in the other paragraph? Mr. BLOOM. This is only "photograph."
Miss SILLCOX. That is on page 14, the paragraph beginning in line 17.
Mr. BLOOM. If he thinks that is sufficient to cover everything that he wants to have covered, I am satisfied.
Miss SILLCOX. He is not a photographer; he is an artist.
Mr. BLOOM. That is what I am saying.
Miss SILLCOX. He is covered on page 14.
Mr. MURPHY. You think the artist is covered for his etching; is that it?
Mr. BLOOM. I do not know. If you think he is, I am satisfied. Mr. MURPHY. I am not making any point about the legal aspect. Mr. OSBORNE. That is intended to cover photographs alone. There is another subsection covering paintings, sculptures, etc.
Mr. LANHAM. Is the only provision in here in reference to artists found in this section 16? Is that the only provision in here with reference to artists?
Mr. OSBORNE. No; section 1 covers the creations of everybody. Section 1 on the first page of the bill covers everybody's creations, because under the definition of "authors" it would include artists and everybody else.
Mr. LANHAM. I mean with reference to infringements.