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Unless the letter is of the nature of privileged correspondence, the courts can probably require the production of a letter in court, and in fact do subpæna telegraph companies to produce the originals or transmittal records of telegrams in court, and thus make them quasi public property. The sale of a manuscript letter cannot authorize a vendee to publish it without consent of the writer, and the receiver of a letter is perhaps bound to keep a letter private or destroy it, if so required by the writer, but this is a right difficult of enforcement if not doubtful in esse. The receiver of a letter has probably a right to destroy it at his will, unless the writer has required its return to him.

The subject-matter of copyright in respect to musical and dramatic compositions and works of art, is treated specifically in later chapters on dramatic and musical copyright and on artistic copyright.

Designs for use in manufacture are, in the United Designs States, subjects of patent and not copyright. It is patentable provided by the act of May 9, 1902, that "any new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture" may be patented, and this classification inferentially excludes such designs from copyright. This generalized description of design patents replaced, at the suggestion of the Commissioner of Patents, the specific descriptions in the design patents act of December 1, 1873, and adopted instead the more comprehensive phraseology of the act of February 4, 1887, for the punishment of infringement of design patents. In like manner the new British code excludes designs registrable under the patents and designs act, 1907, "except designs which, though capable of being so registered, are not used or intended to be used as models or patterns to be multiplied by any industrial process.”

Foreign practice

“The foreign copyright legislation," as is stated in Copyright Office Bulletin, No. 9 of 1905, "instead of specifically naming the productions which are subjectmatter of copyright, generally uses some inclusive expression, such as ‘all writings,' 'every kind of literary work,' works of literature,' 'literary and scientific works,' 'every production of literature and science,' and even such inclusive terms as 'every work of the intellect.'” Spain adds the inclusive phrase

produced or published by ... any kind of impression or reproduction known now or subsequently invented." Great Britain, most of her colonies, and some other countries have set forth specific categories. But the new British measure uses the general phrase

every original literary dramatic musical and artistic work” — this replacing the several categories in the several previous laws. In a few countries manuscripts, personal letters and telegraphic messages, mostly in newspaper use, and in Ecuador, titles of periodicals, are specifically scheduled as subjects of copyright.

The Berlin convention uses the general expression "literary and artistic works,” which it defines as including “all productions in the literary, scientific or artistic domain, whatever the mode or form of reproduction," then specifying in detail categories of literary, dramatic, musical and other artistic works, as set forth in the chapter on international conventions and arrangements.

International definition




THE American code of 1909 names (sec. 8) "the Persons author or proprietor of any work made the subject of named copyright by this Act, or his executors, administrators, or assigns” as the persons in whom the copyright may lodge. It also provides specifically (sec. 62) that “the word 'author' shall include an employer in the case of works made for hire."

The American law formerly named “the author, inventor, designer, or proprietor of any work, and the executors, administrators, or assigns of any such person" as the persons in whom copyright may lodge. The Librarian of Congress accordingly issued copyright certificates for books as to an "author" or "proprietor" only, assuming usually that an editor was the "author" and a publisher the “proprietor," and never going behind the claim set forth in the application. Under the new law the applicant is designated only as the "claimant," and no such distinction is made, except that the Copyright Office has an index card for proprietor, as well as author, when another than the author makes the application.

The author is the person primarily entitled to copy- The author right. He may sell or otherwise transfer his produc- primarily tion before it is copyrighted, in which case the new proprietor obtains all the common law rights of property, both in the manuscript and its publication, including the right to copyright. This common law right, including the right to copyright, may extend, Drone argues, to the finder of an unpublished manu

Claimant's right to register

script, provided no one successfully disputes his ownership of his find, if the manuscript be copyrightable; but there are no decisions on this point. If a copyright is taken out by another person (as the publisher of the book), it is done impliedly in trust for the author, as is a usual custom among American publishers. The proprietor is defined to mean “the representative of an artist or author who might himself obtain copyright.”

The Register of Copyrights is not a quasi judicial officer, as is the Commissioner of Patents, and he does not undertake to make decision as to the right of the claimant, this question being one for determination by the courts in specific instances. In cases of doubt, however, he may in practice, for the sake of convenience and of clearness of record, call the attention of the claimant to such doubt and invite explanation, but he probably would not be justified in refusing to register the application for a claimant who asserted his right to such entry. A former Librarian of Congress, then directly the copyright officer, used to say that he would enter copyright for any one on the Bible in King James' version if formal application were made to him, thus emphasizing the statement that he had no judicial authority. In the case of Everson v. John Russell Young, then Librarian of Congress, Judge Cole in 1889, while refusing the mandamus asked for, asserted incidentally that “the Librarian had no discretion." Where a second application is made for the entry of the same copyrightable work by a second party, the copyright officer would not decline to register the second application, if the claimant insisted on his right, after the fact of the first registration had been brought to the second claimant's notice, and the question of ownership would have to be brought before the courts. It is only in the case of works evidently not copyrightable, or in the case of claimants not entitled to apply for registration, as a citizen of a foreign country with which the United States has no copyright relations, or in other cases evidently beyond the scope of the law, that the copyright officer would exercise discretion and decline to make the record.

The provision of the new code specifically includ- Employer as ing as author (sec. 62) “an employer in the case of author works made for hire" is new in American law, but it adopts previous decisions of the courts. It does not, however, adjudicate the application or specific definition of this phrase, which remains in large measure a question of contract. Earlier copyright decisions were to the effect that the authorship may inhere in the employer, if the design of the work is so far his as to make him the virtual creator and the actual writer a deputy merely; but that he is not an author who "merely suggests the subject, and has no share in the design or execution of the work." But under the new law, the case turns upon the meaning of "employment," which would be clear in the case of writers paid wages or salary for doing the work on an encyclopædia, but might not be clear in the case of an author paid in advance or on account by a publisher, though working on a general plan suggested or invented by the publisher. In such cases the proprietary right, including the right to secure copyright, depends upon the contract, implied or express, and the courts will decide this according to the law of contracts. In Boucicault v. Fox, in 1862, Judge Shipman, in the U. S. Circuit Court, held, as to the play “The octoroon," that "a man's intellectual productions are peculiarly his own, and he will not be deemed to have parted with his right and transferred it to his employer until a valid agree

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