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ton, Mifflin & Co., and there are thousands of them, simply because I never know when that one particular clause is going to count, and I am not going to take any chance. If you put in an exception and say that unless you do so and so, you may void some rights under some circumstances, I am going to register every single thing that comes before us; I take no chance.
Now it says in this bill that you are not required to register your copyrights. Under the bill as it stands, I shall register everything; I shall not omit anything anywhere. Now I do not believe that is wise; I think it would be better to leave out those special clauses requiring registration and give the fellow who registers the privileges. As long as you make the fact a man has filed a registration of his copyright a privilege in any way, I shall file everything. Now, that should be carefully safeguarded, in my estimation.
I am not going to say anything about the importation or the export of books. We are in favor of that clause which Mr. Putnam spoke of so strongly this morning. We believe that clause is a good one and we want to ask you gentlemen whether you are not going to protect American books and American publishers in their business. Is it not a great industry? I think the work of the authors of America a great industry and are you not going to protect them over a very minor special interest, after all—the question of whether certain libraries can buy a book for $1.75 or $2. I believe that imitation clause has been made as reasonable and as fair as it can be and still maintain the principle that the American publisher of an English book is entitled to his American market, and yet concede anything which the collector or the person who is interested in special events, still enables them to collect and be interested in their particular field in a way which does not hurt the American publisher.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Phillips, right at this point, does not this bill, the language of this bill, provide that so far as the cost is concerned to the American library, they can obtain books in America just as cheaply as they can buy the book in England or a foreign country?
Mr. PHILLIPS. Nine times out of ten, yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Then the only question would be whether or not they should have the right to buy the English editions instead of the American?
Mr. PHILLIPS. Why should they?
The CHAIRMAN. I say that is the only question in it, as far as I can see.
Mr. PHILLIPS. Exactly.
Mr. PHILLIPS. I think you are, sir. I might say to you gentlemen that the American textbook publishers have no association, organization, or anything else, where they could be represented as a group: They are individuals in spite of all the talk which you may have heard about the textbook publishers. They are individuals in the very last word. They never get together on anything, by any accident, any. where. So I do not come commissioned by the textbook publishers.
I wish to disavow that. I am speaking for Houghton, Mifflin & Co., purely and simply, but Houghton, Mifflin & Co. is one of the largest textbook publishers in this country, as well as one of the largest general houses. So that I do not want to masquerade under any false pretense as representing any industry; I am representing ourselves alone.
Mr. Bloom. Have not they an association!
Mr. PHILLIPS. No, sir; not that I know of. There are 3 or 4 members of the American Publishers Association; there are 18 or 20 who are not.
Mr. Bloom. But there is no objection, the way it stands, by any of them?
Mr. PHILLIPS. I have not heard of any.
Mr. LANHAM. In general, your views are the views of the American textbook publishers, although you do not speak for them?
Mr. PHILLIPS. I hope so. I have talked with a great many schoolbook ublishers; I have talked with Mr. Benton, of the American Book Co., and I have talked with various other and sundry houses, and I am quite sure Benton is vigorously in favor of this bill, with the exception of the registry clause.
Mr. LANHAM. If they have any opposition to this bill, might I ask you, is it not a matter of fact they have been placed upon notice this bill is pending for consideration and they would have an opportunity to voice their protest, if they have any?
Mr. PHILLIPS. I think they have; certainly. I think the attitude of most of the textbook publishers is this bill is in pretty good hands, and while they might object to this, that, or the other thing, and hope it will not go through, still, we will play the game under the rules of the game as they are. I might say our house very rarely expresses any opinion in reference to legislation. We would prefer to leave legislation to you gentlemen, and to play the game according to the rules, trying not to transgress the rules. I do think this question of international copyright, this question of validating rights of authors, and the question of the term of the copyright being extended so that would protect the ownership in case of the death of the author, I felt those things were of sufficient importance for us to take a finger in this pie. There were some things I noticed in the earlier bilì introduced, on the international copyright, that I should have objected to quite vigorously; but there is no use discussing those things, because that bill is not under discussion and they have all been attended to or eliminated in this bill.
Mr. WEFALD. What effect, if any, will the passage of this bill have upon the price of school textbooks?
Mr. PHILLIPS. I do not think it will have one iota; I can not see how it can.
Mr. WEFALD. The price of school textbooks has been continuously rising for the last few years, has it not?
Mr. PHILLIPS. No, sir. The prices rose from 1917 to about 1922, but they have been rather going down since then.
Mr. WEFALD. I have bought a good many for my family.
Mr. PHILLIPS. You will find the rise within those years. I do not think there has been any rise since then.
Mr. WEFALD. I just wanted to know, because I will have to answer that question some time.
Mr. PHILLIPS. I will tell you, if it is going to have any effect on the price of school textbooks it is going to decrease it. It is going to decrease it for this reason, that we shall have opened up a certain export market, and the price of school textbooks depends on the quantity of those books which we can print and circulate, and the more you can print and circulate the cheaper it will be.
Mr. WEFALD. We want to know that.
Mr. PHILLIPS. So if there is anything in the bill as far as its effect on the price of school textbooks is concerned, it would make for lower prices.
Mr. WEFALD. Will the effect of the bill be that school textbooks will change more rapidly than in the past ?
Mr. PHILLIPS. No, sir; I think not.
I would like to say one thing, gentlemen: There are no school textbooks throughout the whole wide world that compare for one second with the school textbooks of America. I defy anyone any. where on the face of the globe to find books equal in quality of material, manufacture, or makeup with the American school textbooks at anything like the same price. I feel pretty strongly about that, and I would like to refer you to an article which Prof. Elwood Coverly, of Leland Stanford University, wrote, in which he elaborated on the special achievement in American education, and he picked out our textbooks as that achievement. I should like to have you compare some French or English school textbooks with the kinds of editions de luxe which our school children use as baseball bats and other weapons of offense and defense in the American schools.
Our primers and readers and histories are works of art.
This gentleman (Mr. Wefald) mentioned the fact that American textbooks are high. You take the average price_$1.60—and if that book was published in the regular line of trade
Mr. WEFALD. Is that the wholesale price?
Mr. PHILLIPS. The list price—the charge. If that book was published in the ordinary line of trade, that book [exhibting] would cost $6 or $7 a copy. What is the difference? The difference is that there are 20,000,000 of school children in this country and the chances of selling to half a million are pretty good. There are not 20,000,000 people who take hold of that ordinary book [exhibiting] and to whom there is a fair chance of selling half a million. In other words, the only reason you get your school books for anything like the price you do here is that this adventure into American education is a wonderful achievement which takes in all the children and includes an enormous market.
Mr. Bloom. Are not those books contracted for regularly by the authorities in the various districts?
Mr. PHILLIPS. No, sir; we sell those books purely in competition. Mr. Bloom. Pure competition on the contracts?
Mr. PHILLIPS. I do not think contracts have anything to do with it, because, in a measure, we have to sell in competition, and we make that price as low as possible in order to get the business. The amount you get for your money in a school textbook is about four times what you get in the ordinary trade, and it has to be. The trade publisher has an uncertain market. There are a lot of things that enter into the market of the trade publisher that make it diffi
cult for him to recoup on anything less than he charges. I do not think he could get by on any less price. You do not have a guaranteed sale for trade books, but you do in the case of school textbooks. With the trade books you have a hope for sales; but if your school book is made right it will be used by a great many schools. If it is made wrong, very few will use it, and it is a great trick to make them right.
Mr. WEFALD. Perhaps a lot of them are not made right.
Mr. PHILLIPS. You are quite right. However, I hope I have left the impression that I am in favor of this bill, gentlemen.
Mr. MELCHER. I should like further to round out the picture from the standpoint of the book-publishing industry. While, as Mr. Phillips told you, there is no organization of book publishers he was correct in voicing the sentiment he did, because as individuals they have been kept in touch with your meetings, and Mr. Phillips is not only a large publisher but has made a special study of copyrights.
There is a large industry engaged in the publishing of textbooks, and that is the subscription book publishing industry. They have their own special organization in Chicago and have held a special meeting on copyrights and, for the purpose of shaping their position with respect to this bill, have sent as their representative Mr. David S. Beasley, president of the society, who will now say a word to you.
STATEMENT OF DAVID S. BEASLEY, PRESIDENT SUBSCRIPTION
BOOK PUBLISHERS' ASSOCIATION
Mr. BEASLEY. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I have been sent here as a delegate by the American Society for Publishing Subscription Books; the Subscription Book Publishers' Association, to be exact.
Our association functions almost from the coast of Labrador to Patagonia and about the same distance around the world; and we are the fellows, you might say, on the frontier in the matter of book selling. We go out in the highways and byways of the little schoolhouses and sell wherever we can. It has been said that we not only take the fountain of knowledge to these people in these distant points but shove their heads in.
However, be that as it may, we cover the whole world, and I feel we could go to foreign countries with better grace if we had a real copyright law and were in the copyright union; and, after careful consideration, we are of opinion that the Vestal bill is the best thing uncovered to-day. I am inclined to agree with Mr. Osborne, who covered the matter delightfully and, so to speak, put all his cards on the table when he said we might be for something better if it was presented, but it has not been done. Wherever we have a case where authors and publishers get together in perfect agreement on a matter of this kind it is reasonable to assume that the authors and publishers, if you take their business over a period of years, are interested to the extent not of millions but of billions of dollars. We have everything at stake—everything to gain and nothing to lose by helping to enact a real honest-to-goodness copyright law. We believe the proposition as set out by this Vestal bill comes as near doing that as anything the human mind has conceived so far. The Vestal bill
leaves less room for misunderstandings, which are the bane of our personal life and business life, and will make for a smaller amount of misunderstanding, and it seems to me we should be earnestly for it.
Take this provision of the new bill, for instance: We have in this country millions upon millions of lines of reprint matter that have been published from time out of mind. For years after years they have been taken from the other side and have been freely used and it is absolutely all right and not disputed.
The Vestal bill says this, with respect to such material which has been published here for years
Provided further, That as to copyrights in works not previously copyrighted in the United States, no right or remedy given pursuant to this act shall prejudice lawful acts done or rights in copies lawfully made or the continuance of enterprises lawfully undertaken within the United States prior to the date of said proclamation, and the author or other owner of such copyrights or persons claiming under him shall not be entitled to bring action against any person who has, prior to such date, taken any action in connection with the reproduction or performance (in a manner which at the time was not unlawful) of any such work whereby he has incurred any substantial expenditure or liability.
That is perfectly fine and is as clear as could be. The older billI quote from Mr. Perkins' bill, and I say this with some hesitation, because I come from his congressional district and I am sure hé would not allow me to vote for him the next election, and that would be an extreme hardship on me and not hurt him—but the Perkins' bill says—throughout the entire bill it goes on to qualify this thing and says “unless such foreign author agrees to pay him such compensation as, failing agreement, may be determined by arbitration."
What does that mean? That means the day after we went into this union, the publisher on the other side or the author could come over here and stop every bit of reprint publication that there is. He can hold up the publication until the courts decide what shall be paid for taking that out of his works. I think that would be a catastrophe of far-reaching effect. I believe it would do the publishers millions of dollars of damages. That is only one of the many things that have been ironed out.
It is very natural that the new bill should be better than the old, just as the new automobile of to-day is better than the automobile of yesterday; just as the dresses and hats of to-day are better than yesterday. This bill represents the flower and fruit of the best minds in the publishers' associations and the authors, and I firmly believe we can not do better than to make an effort to put it through as it is, regardless of any exceptions asked by the librarians or anyone else. The librarians know that the publishers have to cater to them and must stay firmly with them and know that the publishers have never had any intention of profiteering and know that no man has gone into that business with the purpose of making a fortune, just as you gentlemen do not go into the profession of statesmanship because of the monetary gain that you expect to get.
The publishers are semiprofessional men, and they know they have to have their works broadcasted the whole world over, and he is just as much interested in that as the money he derives from his business. So, we feel we have the interest of the public at heart, the interest of the publisher and the interest of the author, and Mr.