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Mr. MONTGOMERY. I am assistant chief of the customs division in the Treasury Department. I should like, Mr. Chairman, to say, in answer to Mr. Putnam, that all these books of which he speaks, that are imported through the mails, pay duty. We have very elaborate regulations on the subject and follow them very closely, and I repeat I am perfectly satisfied that all these books pay duty.
STATEMENT OF MR. THOMAS NELSON PAGE.
The CHAIRMAN. You have ten minutes, Mr. Page, in which to present your views.
Mr. Page. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I suppose ten minutes might be considered a very limited time for those who represent the obscure authors, who are those whom I represent.
The CHAIRMAN. It is a very limited time, undoubtedly, but it is the best we have been able to arrange for in view of all the circumstances.
Mr. Page. I wish to say at the outset, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, that this bill seems to me, as an author, to be an exceedingly complete one, and to cover the ground in an admirable way, so much more complete than I could possibly devise that I regard it with the greatest possible respect.
What I have to say will be as to a few points in connection with the bill, though it is possible that you gentlemen may already have given consideration to those points.
In section 25 of the bill (S. 2199) you say:
Section 25. That the copyright secured by this act shall endure: (a) In the case of any posthumous work, for thirty years from the date of first publication; (b) in the case of any periodical or other composite work or of any work copyrighted by a corporate body or by an employer for whom such work is made for hire, for forty-two years from the date of first publication; (c) in the case of any work not specified in sub-sections (a) and (b) of this section, for the remainder of the lifetime of the author after first publication, and for thirty years after his death, or if a work by joint authors, until thirty years after the death of the last survivor of them.
The matter of an extension of copyright for longer than thirty years was, I think, considered at the time of the conference two years ago, and so I will not speak of it now.
I observe, however, that joint authors are to have copyright for thirty years after the death of the last survivor of them. It seems to me that that might be improved a little bit, because it would tend rather to make persons disingenuous. They might get some one to unite with them to the extent of a few lines, and let the work go out as a matter of joint authorship.
The CHAIRMAN. I will say, Mr. Page, that that criticism has been made by others; in fact, I have heard it made by many people, and yet I have thought this about it: Would it justify any author to have some person younger than himself write a few lines in the book for the purpose merely of an extension of the copyright as provided in this subsection (c)? Do you think that the disadvantages of having another person interested in the copyright, the complications that may arise through his death and through family disagreements, would more than offset what advantage an author would receive from resorting to that plan?
Mr. Page. I think it might. I simply called attention to it because it might leave the author at a disadvantage.
Representative LEGARE. He might do it with his son.
Representative CURRIER. I do not think that the average man would take much interest in what was doing thirty years after his death.
Mr. Page. Only that copyright after his death is a provision for his heirs, his children, and grandchildren. However, I leave that consideration to you gentlemen.
I observe that in section 27. on page 15, at line 8, a provision that copyright might be extended, renewed, under proper conditions by the widow or children of an author. It might be that a man might have sisters or some other female relatives dependent upon him whom he has supported all his life, and they might lose all the profits of his work. Yet they might be members of his family quite as much as if they were his children. I submit that for the consideration of you gentlemen.
Representative Law. How would you suggest that that be arranged?
Mr. PAGE. He might leave it by will, I should think.
Representative CURRIER. A Member of Congress spoke to me about the case of Frank Stockton. Some of his books copyrighted for twenty-eight years are just about running out. He had a brother whom he provided for in his lifetime, but that brother can not get any benefit of the copyright.
Mr. PAGE. It seems to me it ought to be extended to him. I have in mind the case of Mrs. Ritchie, Thackeray's daughter. After her father's death, she, owing to some complications which rendered her uncertain as to what her rights might be, sold the complete copyright in all his works for £5.000, as I understand, and I suppose that fifty times that sum would have been a reasonable value for it. In order to get some advantage from his work, she afterwards edited an edition of them, which was brought out by Harper & Bros., on this side, she writing an introduction to each volume, so arranged as to comply with his request that no biography should be written of him.. Ünfortunately the print of these sketches is so small that men of my time of life can get no advantage from them.
I come now to the question of the importation of prints, which was under discussion this morning. I wish to say that I represent only the author; and, may I say in the presence of my distinguished friend, Mr. Jenner, also the book lover. I, myself, am very fond, at times, of importing a British book, a British imprint. I like the print and I like the paper sometimes; it is better than ours. So occasionally I indulge myself a little in getting a volume or two. Personally, as an author, I see no reason why an importation of that kind should not be made.
I am willing to take the chances of a reasonable reduction of royalties, which are never too large. I think that the provision, however, as it stands in your bill, Mr. Chairman (S. 24199), may benefit by some modification. The clause relating to this question is found in section 34, beginning at page 18. The point to which I wish to call attention will be found on page 20, at line 12:
When imported, for use and not for sale, not more than one copy of any such book in any one invoice, in good faith, by or for any society or institution incorporated for educational, literary, philosophical, scientific, or religious purposes, or for the encouragement of the fine arts, or for any college, academy, school, or seminary of learning, or for any State, school, college, university, or free public library in the United States.
Now I am informed by men on whose word I place great reliance that that provision is used and that a great many volumes are brought into this country under the guise of being used for libraries.
As you gentlemen know, in England the Mudie Library is the purveyor of books and literature for the public. So that when a man publishes his books in England, the question whether Mudie will take them or not really decides the question of whether a man will publish or not. Mudie has had control of the matter until possibly latelyI think that they are possibly becoming in a measure emancipated from the Mudie control.
Now, it seems to me that if a man brings in a book by mail he really evades the intention of your law. I was in New York the other day and was shown a list made up by some one who was advising libraries about books; and the number of books that were recommended to be bought on the other side was astonishing. I could readily give you a copy of the publication-it was a large catalogue. I should say that for two books by American authors, included in this list, there would be five or six by foreign authors-generally because they were so much cheaper. But they were much more indifferent editions.
If I may be pardoned for making a personal allusion in this presence, I will explain how that sometimes comes about. I, myself, have had very fortunate relations with publishers on this side, and very unfortunate relations with publishers on the other side. I have had several publishers on the other side. One publisher undertook to bring out two of my books in a cheap edition. They appeal to a rather limited audience, and they need to be in pretty fair type and to be pretty well put up in order to make much of a show. (Laughter in the hall.]
This man brought out these two books of mine with quite a flourish of trumpets; but when brought out the two volumes were in one volume, and on the back was a large silver dollar. It was called “ The American Dollar Series.” It was just at the time that the silver question was agitating this country, and I suppose he thought it would be a good thing to bring the book out in that way. When I saw the book I said: “ There is not a line in either one of those books that is not a protest against the back.” [Laughter.]
I hope I am not taking up too much of your time, but one has to go back occasionally to one's own experience for illustrations. The first book I published in England had the title of “ Old Virginia.” The first story in that was one for whose publication in book form I was indebted to the Century Magazine. That book was taken over to England and was taken up by a publisher there. I was delighted to hear that it was to be published in England. (I was then a much younger man than I am now.) The point of the story was that a young officer had been killed in the war and his body servant had wrapped about him the flag that he had carried up the hill in battle. After a while I called at my publishers and they brought me out the English edition of my book, and on the back of it was a large picture of an Uncle Tom's Cabin darkey, with lips as thick as my shoe, picking up a young officer, in the uniform of a reunited Republic, with the flag of our country wrapped around him-a flag for which I have great reverence-but it was not the flag that was wrapped around the officer in the story. [Laughter.] I mention that to show why the English books are cheaper than the American books.
This morning I listened with much interest, pleasure, and illumination to the very able speech delivered by Mr. Jenner. My pleasure was marred by only two things. When he ended I did not quite know whether he was representing me or was against me. I knew that he had made a very grave error in the application of the point which he was enunciating. Just as I entered the room he was speaking of a man to whom more than any other man in the world, not excepting myself, I am indebted for the honor of appearing before you this evening--that is, Mr. Charles Scribner. I have had more dealings with Mr. Scribner than probably any man in this room. I want to say that my relations to him were not that of author and publisher, who are sometimes at daggers drawn, but they were those of the confiding client and his counsel.
I practiced law for eighteen years in a community where, when a client employed counsel, that counsel was indeed his counsel, and nothing in the world would have swerved him from doing the best in his power for the interests of his client. I feel as confident that Mr. Scribner, in any matter of business that I confided to him, would look after my interests as they would be looked after if I had been the client of my father and reposed my interests in his hands when he was a member of the bar in Virginia.
Mr. JENNER. Will you do me the favor to state the opinion which I repeated to you personally about Mr. Scribner?
Mr. Page. I think you said he was a very good and liberal man. It was not your private utterance, but your public utterance to which I refer. I heard Mr. Jenner say that there were two firms that he would indicate, and they were Putnam's Sons and Scribners. It was Mr. Jenner's tone and manner, more than the words I heard, that led me to think that it was a hostile criticism of Mr. Scribner, and for that reason I felt it due to Mr. Charles Scribner that I should say this of him, because to Mr. Scribner and men like him who publish these magazines is due the fact that the people in our part of the country were enabled to enter on literature at all.
I see that I have already taken up more than my time. I thank you, gentlemen. [Applause in the hall.]
I only want to say in conclusion that I think that the interests of an author and the interests of his publisher, provided he has an honest man for a publisher, are absolutely interdependent.
Representative LEGARE. Is that always so?
Mr. Page. I think there are sometimes cases where the author has been cheated by his publisher.
Representative LEGARE. Is that so in all cases ?
Mr. Page. No; but I know of authors who have been so unfortunate as to get into the hands of shyster publishers, and I know of authors whose widows and children have been robbed by publishers;
but that is not the case when an author has a reputable publisher, to whom I understand this bill is to apply.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there any gentleman here who wishes to speak in behalf of the libraries?
Mr. CUTTER. I should like to speak briefly for the libraries.
STATEMENT OF MR. WILLIAM PARKER CUTTER, SECRETARY,
LIBRARY COPYRIGHT LEAGUE.
Mr. CUTTER. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I thought it well to bring here some books that were imported, and I have brought three. This one [indicating) is an American copyrighted book published in New York City in 1906, by G. P. Putnam's Sons, exported to England, and reimported into the United States. That book is published and sold in this country now at $5 net. That means $5 to the ordinary buyer; $1.50 to the libraries. That book was imported to Northampton, Mass., for $1.62 from England.
The CHAIRMAN. With the tariff duty ?
Representative CURRIER. Will you put the title of the book into the record ?
Mr. CUTTER. Yes.
(Mr. Cutter subsequently stated the title to be Cathedrals and Cloisters of the South of France, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1906, 2 volumes.)
The CHAIRMAN. Is that the book that you say is sold in this country for $5.
Mr. CUTTER. Yes; this is the American publication.
Now, however, I show you an English edition of an Englishman's book [indicating a second book], which a private citizen, under the proposed bill, could not import.
Mr. GEORGE ILWEN PUTNAM. Excepting indirectly. Mr. CUTTER. It is “copyrighted in the United States of America, 1906.” That book costs in this country now $7.50. It is in two volumes. The price to public libraries is $6.75. It costs me, delivered in Northampton, paying mail charges, $1.61.
(Mr. Cutter subsequently gave the title of the volume as Reminiscences of Henry Irving, by Bram Stoker. Published by William Heinemann, London, 1906.)
Mr. CUTTER. I have here also, to illustrate another point, an English edition of a novel—Somehow Good, by William De Morgan, published by William Heinemann, London, 1908. It is copyrighted in the United States of America. As I say, this is the English edition. This copy costs me, delivered in Northampton, Mass., $1.25. It is published in England at a list price of $1.50; it is published at a net price--that is, it can be bought for $1.08 in England. The American edition is published at $1.75, according to the price list, but can be bought by public libraries for about $1.35. The English edition is very much better printed than the American edition.
That is all I wish to say about those three books. I have, however, one other slight point I wish to present in regard to importation of foreign books by individuals, and that is in regard to the effect on the revenues of the United States Government.