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Under date of December 27, 1907, the Chief of the Bureau of Statistics of the Department of Commerce and Labor wrote me the following letter:
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND LABOR,
BUREAU OF STATISTICS,
Washington, December 27, 1907.
Mr. W. P. CUTTER,
Secretary Library Copyright League,
Forbes Library, Northampton, Mass.
SIR Replying to your inquiry of the 24th instant, you are respectfully informed that during the year ending with June 30, 1907, the imports of "books, music, maps, engravings, etchings, photographs, and other printed matter," the classification under which collectors of customs make returns to this Bureau, from the United Kingdom, were in value as follows:
Free of duty-
$1,686, 621 1, 700, 987
Very truly, yours,
O. P. AUSTIN,
Now, the duty paid on this material, at the rate of 25 per cent ad valorem, would be one-fourth of $1,700,000, or $425,246.
Under the existing law, printed matter may be imported (1) by individuals for their own use, paying duty; (2) by dealers for sale, paying the duty. There is no duty on a book that has been published more than twenty years.
It is of course impossible to determine what percentage of the dutiable material imported during this fiscal year had been copyrighted in the United States. But as the international copyright law has been in operation sixteen years, it may be said that nearly all of the material could have been so copyrighted, and it is probable that a great deal of it was.
The importation provisions of this bill prohibit the importation of an English book by an individual when the book has been copyrighted in this country. It would therefore reduce the receipts of the United States Government by an amount equal to one-fourth the value of such goods previously imported. This might amount to many thousand dollars per year.
STATEMENT OF MR. BERNARD C. STEINER, LIBRARIAN ENOCH PRATT FREE LIBRARY, OF BALTIMORE CITY, AND PRESIDENT LIBRARY COPYRIGHT LEAGUE, REPRESENTING THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION AS CHAIRMAN OF ITS COMMITTEE ON FEDERAL AND STATE RELATIONS.
Mr. STEINER. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, the hearing on the proposed copyright bill held in June, 1906, developed certain serious objections to it from the point of view of public libraries, and it was felt that the best method of trying to have changes in the interests of libraries made in that bill was to organize an association expressly for the purpose of defending library interests in copyright matter. Consequently in July, 1906, at Narragansett Pier, there was organized the Library Copyright League, of which I have the honor to be president. This league appeared at the hearing in December, 1906, and the efforts of the league so met the approval of the American Library Association at their meeting in
May, 1907, that they "Resolved, That they record their thanks (1) to the committee appointed by the executive board which represented the association before the copyright conference and presented the inclusion in the first draft of the bill of unfavorable restrictions; (2) to the Library Copyright League which took up the work at the point reached by the committee, and in the hearings before the joint committee of Congress and by public discussion helped to make plain the justice of granting still greater freedom to libraries in the importation of books and contributed to securing the provisions at present embodied in the copyright bill."
At the same convention it was voted by the council of the American Library Association "That the incoming president appoint a committee to which shall be referred copyright legislation at the next session of Congress, the committee to be instructed to protest against any less liberal provisions as regards libraries than the bill reported by the Committees on Patents of the last Congress." Of that committee I have the honor to be chairman.
I am instructed to state to this committee that the association I represent would protest against such a clause as was contained in the bill of two years ago, and as is contained now in the Kittredge bill, but not in the bills introduced by Senator Smoot and Mr. Currier, and which, I understand, will not lead to discussion at this time. It is the clause saying that the public libraries shall not import a book without the consent of the copyright proprietor.
The Library Copyright League desires to bring before you the desirability of a change in the bill of Senator Smoot (S. 2499) in line 13, page 20-changing the words "one copy" to "two copies," so that the provision will remain as at present and that libraries may have the right to import two copies of any book on any one invoice. Representative CURRIER. It seems to me that you need not take up much time with that point. Quite a number of librarians agreed to that provision of the Kittredge bill, and they agreed to the compromise.
Mr. STEINER. There are 200 librarians whom I represent that protested against it.
Representative CURRIER. I do not know about your brief or what papers you may have sent in, but I am speaking of those who addressed this committee.
Mr. STEINER. I addressed the committee, and I protested against it. Representative CURRIER. If you did, I have forgotten it.
The CHAIRMAN. Is it not a fact that in the league itself a vote was taken giving authority to a gentleman who appeared here before, at the other hearing, to state that the league was willing to agree to the provision for one copy?
Mr. STEINER. No, sir; excuse me. We authorized the Library Copyright League. The Library Association has come to the position of the other organization in all points but this one. The point is a little complicated, and I admit that it is easy to have a misconception, but this is the point I am directed by the Copyright League to present before you.
The CHAIRMAN. As I remember, the gentleman who represented the Library Association said that he himself would prefer the bill to pro
vide for two copies, but that he had to represent the association, and that they would only consent to one.
Mr. STEINER. It is of no advantage to anyone, and it is a vexation to a library. There is no need of more than two copies in one invoice, but a large library needs two copies. It is surprising how many books have been allowed to go out of print in America or are in paper editions. My order clerk tells me, as to one book, that she has been compelled to place an English edition, inasmuch as she could only find a 25-cent edition of the book in the American market. I do not think we have ever found that we needed more than two copies. If we do not have the law as it is at present, we will simply have to get twice the number of invoices. We will not buy the books in America, and it will be a vexation to the libraries.
In reference to the individual importation: As the matter stands at present it is necessary for the person interested to undergo what may be a very difficult task, to find the proprietor of the American copyright. If the provision stands as at present, which I hope it will not, we shall have constant difficulty. It is surprising how many books there are as to which my agent continually reports to me "I can not find the publisher"-books that are still in copyright. If this provision is still to be kept in the law there ought to be some way by which the proprietor of the copyright can be found.
With reference to sections 62 and 63 of the bill (S. 2499), it is rather a dangerous provision to allow the destruction of copyright material. A man desiring to make use of material which may have been copyrighted has no way of finding out about it.
STATEMENT OF MR. J. J. SULLIVAN, REPRESENTING THE INTERNATIONAL TYPOGRAPHICAL UNION.
Mr. SULLIVAN. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I wish to offer an emphatic protest on behalf of the 100,000 people in the printing business against any further concessions to librarians in regard to the importation of prohibited books. I wish to say that the International Typographical Union, the International Bookbinders, and the International Pressmen are willing to abide by the provision in regard to importation as now found in the respective bills of Senator Smoot and Representative Currier.
Representative CURRIER. I do not think you need to take up much time on that point, Mr. Sullivan.
Mr. SULLIVAN. I think, however, that the provision should go further. I believe the law is openly violated by the importation into the United States of cheap foreign reprints of American copyrighted books.
In the conferences that were held to draft a new copyright bill under the instructions of Congress the library associations, represented by their national officers, entered into the deliberations and agreed to a provision whereby the importation of copies should be restricted to one, and in the case of an American copyright book, then only with the permission of the American copyright proprietor.
That provision looked rather arbitrary on its face, but when we came to delve into the matter as my organization and others have delved into it-it was believed to be the best provision.
I wish to say that for sixteen years we have followed copyright legislation very closely and the manufacturing clause of the law very closely, for we created it. We believe to-day that the manufacturing clause is violated by importation of cheap reprints of American books. We believe that that should be stopped. If an American produces a book we believe the American libraries should buy the book and not import cheap copies into this country, as is done. I have made some inquiry into that, and in following this line of inquiry I generally find nothing but insolence from the librarians when I ask for the number of their importations, for they do not want to give them. If the American publisher pays American printers, American bookbinders, American pressmen, and other Americans, even allowing that the book costs from $3 to $5 (it may be a book of reference, and should be found on the shelves of the libraries), I want to ask what reason is there for the libraries to import cheap editions of foreign books in here and leave the book of the American publishers unsold on their shelves?
I do not want to take up any more of your time, because I become very earnest when I enter upon this subject. I know whereof I speak.
We stand by the bills of Senator Smoot and Representative Currier, although we do emphatically protest against any further privileges being granted to libraries.
STATEMENT OF REV. DR. HENRY VAN DYKE.
Doctor VAN DYKE. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I do not represent anyone except one plain, humble American citizen who happens to be a teacher of reading down in a school in New Jersey, and who sometimes writes poetry. You can understand that neither of these occupations entitles him to a place either in a corporation or a labor union. For, so far as I know, the teaching of reading and writing of poetry have not yet been thoroughly organized. [Laughter.]
I am interested in this bill which is before you. I do not know precisely which one of these bills is before you. I have read parts of four bills which have been published in a pamphlet. But I am interested in the subject before you, as an American citizen who wishes to see the idea of literary property as clearly defined as possible and as clearly protected as possible, not for the interest of the author alone, or the publisher in conjunction with the author, but in the interest of the country at large.
There is one thing that is fundamental to our country as a people; that is that the nature of property of different kinds should be clearly defined and understood, and that its rights should be protected in such a way that the plain, ordinary wayfaring man, who, whether by inheritance or by his labor, may have rights in the premises, may not be confused and bewildered and be obliged to spend enormous sums of money upon lawyers to find out what those rights are and afterwards get into a situation where he does not know whether he really has any rights.
I think that these bills as they are before you, taken all in all, represent an amount of work on the part of this committee and of effort toward the right object, which ought to secure the respect of
the authors and publishers and of the American people at large. [Applause.]
We have made long strides forward since this whole subject of intellectual property was in a mist and maze-since people could get up and say "There is no such thing as property in an idea." Why certainly there is not; but such labor as a man may have given to formulating ideas to make them valuable-just as chemical elements. when combined in certain forms and adapted for human use are property, so, ideas, regarded as elements and made available for human use, may well be said to be property.
It is one of the essential features of civilization that we should reward people in order to encourage them to do their labor well. Mr. Currier brought out the idea which underlies the whole discussion here, that it is for the good of the whole people that we are acting in this matter.
There are many considerations that arise in connection with it. Of course, if anyone can throw any light upon it, the committee will, I am sure, be very glad.
The whole question of the importation of books published abroad seems to me to involve two things. First, the extent to which you intend to protect the manual laborer in the production of books. If you intend to protect him fully, you must not go beyond the provisions of this bill in the importation of books. And in regard to the author, if you mean to protect him in the use of his copyright, and in the exclusive control of his work, you must put him in a position where it will not be possible for an English publisher with whom he has made a contract for his book for half royalty (and sometimes the author gets only one-fourth) to come over here and flood this market with English books on which only one-half or one-fourth royalty is paid to the author. Of course, the author could in a measure protect himself against that by making a contract with the English publisher that would protect him, but it would be difficult to do it.
Mr. GEORGE HAVEN PUTNAM. And it would be very difficult to enforce it.
Doctor VAN DYKE. It would be very difficult to enforce it. If you wish to accord a full and fair protection to the American typesetter and printer, you should adhere closely to the provisions of these bills that are here.
I think that the bills of Mr. Barchfeld and Mr. Kittredge, saying that importations shall not be allowed unless copies of the American edition can not be supplied, would be unfortunate, because who can tell whether they can be supplied or not? It would be a very difficult thing to determine.
In regard to the music question
Representative CURRIER. That does not come up now.
The CHAIRMAN. We do not wish to touch that.
Doctor VAN DYKE. I merely wish to say that that comes under the same consideration as the other questions.
Now, as to the term of copyright, as you have defined it here in these bills, it represents a distinct advance. The idea, I think, in your mind as fair men is this: That a man should be protected during his lifetime in the usufruct and benefit of his property-property that he has produced by the toil of his brain-and also that he should