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also protected the printing industry in this country (Opinion of January 19, 1901). With these objects in view, section 3 of the act of 1891 (amending section 1956, Revised Statutes) provided that the two copies of a copyrighted book required to be delivered or mailed to the Librarian of Congress shall be printed from type set within the limits of the United States, and contained the following prohibition:
“During the existence of such copyright, the importation into the United States of any book * * so copyrighted, or any edition
thereof, or any plates of the same not made from type set
within the limits of the United States, shall be, and it is hereby, prohibited.”
The exceptions then specified are not material to this inquiry.
Thus it appears that the essential point to be determined is whether these provisions of the international copyright act apply to the copyright and the importation in question. I think not. A law speaks from the date of its approval or from the future date fixed for it to take effect, except so far as it is in terms retrospective. The general rule is that a law is prospective in operation. (Sutherland on Statutory Construction, sec. 133, and auth. cit.: Murray v. Gibson, 15 How., 421; Ilarvey v. Tyler, 2 Wall., 328; Twenty Per Cent Cases, 20 Wall., 179; Aut mordt v. Rasin, 102 U.S., 620; Chew Heong v. United States, 112 U. S., 536.) The copyright referred to in section 3 of the act of 1891 is “such copyright” on a book, etc., "so copyrighted,” in the enlarged scope of the privilege and for the new purposes indicated, by perfecting the right through the requisite delivery or deposit inter alia, “not later than the day of publication in this or any foreign country.” There can be no copyright by virtue of the act of 1891 where the two copies are not the production of domestic typesetting. This was not so under the previous law. It was only necessary to deliver within ten days from publication two copies of the work, without restriction as to the place of typesetting or printiug (sec. 4956, R. S., previous to amendment). It is impossible to hold that a copyright obtained in 1882 should have conformed to the requirements of the present law, or, failing to do so, be held invalid and beyond protection now. Such considerations are necessarily persuasive to my mind that the act of 1891 looks to the future alone and not to the past as well, so far, at all events, as concerns the requirements imposed upon a copyright applicant or owner under the section we are discussing. Otherwise it is necessary to conclude that a copyright in 1882 is now void or less extensive than originally, because it did not or does not follow rules which the law did not impose until 1891. As you perceive, I am assuming as conceded that the Harpers' copyright of 1882 on the seventh edition of the work was complete and legal, and was duly assigned to the present owners.
But it may be argued, nevertheless, that the right should be assimilated to the rules of the present law so far as possible, and that, granting the copyright to be valid, importations under the copyright should be prohibited unless made from type set within the United States. Here the right vested in Harpers' assignees may be viewed as conflicting with the protection to domestic labor extended by the later law. I think, notwithstanding, that the rules of the earlier law must cover this copyright in all respects during its life, unless otherwise provided by additional leyislation; for the status of a copyright then in existence with respect to the new policy (in copyright) of protection to American labor seems to have been a casus omissus in the act of 1891. We must keep clearly in view vested rights as well as the demands of a protective tariff or protective prohibitions of importation.
Again, it may be suggested that a new copyright should have been obtained under the act of 1891 for the eighth edition issued in 1897, and not wholly a reproduction of the edition of 1882. But while the eighth edition contains some corrections and additions, these appear to be comparatively trifling in extent. Therefore, although the new matter may lie outside copyright protection (assuming the unlikely case of unauthorized reproduction of such portions of the work and an action for infringement), it does not seem to me that these slight additions amount to the substantial changes of section 1959 as amended by the act of 1891, which permits, rather than requires, a revised edition of a book by
foreign authors, theretofore published, to be copyrighted. Indeed, that section implies that a new edition may not be copyrighted unless there are “substantial changes.” So that the new matter seemingly does not require you to apply to the importation any other rules than those applicable to the said seventh edition under the law existing in 1882, when there was no prohibition of importation of sheets printed abroad from type not set within the United States. The maxim, " The law does not care for trifles” may be suggested in this connection, and to your practical determination would appear to be committed the question when in fact such corrections and addenda carry a new edition over the line of a substantial reproduction of the preceding edition.
I come now to Mr. Conrad's opinion (21 Opin., 159). He held
“That section 3 of the act of March 3, 1891, applies as well to books which have been copyrighted before as to those which have been copyrighted since the passage of the act."
But this broad announcement must be understood to be restricted to the special case before Solicitor-General Conrad, which was presumably that of American owners of an American copyright obtained before the act of 1891 on an American literary work, who were seeking under the act of 1891 to prevent the importation of an unauthorized foreign edition, the remedy under the previous law being merely by way of forfeiture of the infringing copies and damages (sec. 496+, R. S., before amendment). Mr. Conrad's lan
** The act is prospective only as to this new security (the prohibition of importation) which it affords the owner of the copyright, and is not prospective as to the books to which that security applies. He can not claim indemnity for losses sustained by reason of such importation and sale prior to the passage of the act; but while his copyright continues, whether it was acquired before or siuce March 3, 1891, the benefit of the act extends to him."
In other words, Mr. Conrad holds that the act of 1891 protects copyrights obtained before its passage, subject to
an exception or limitation which he specifies, and does not consider whether its corresponding burdens are or can be extended to such copyrights. I am not prepared to say that certain benefits may not accrue to anterior copyrights under any of the language of the act of 1891 or subsequent copyright enactments, even if the burdens residing in the present method of obtaining copyright do not attach. The language is occasionally general (see first sentence of sec. 4966 as amended by act June 6, 1897, 29 Stat., 481); in other places it is restricted by the phrase "as provided in this act" and other such phrases (sec. 4964 as amended by the act of 1891, and sec. 1965 as amended by act March 2, 1895, 28 Stat., 965), which are similar in effect to the expressions “such copyright” and “so copyrighted” noted above from the present section 4956. But it can hardly be doubted that the owner of an American copyright seeking to be relieved from the necessity of typesetting in this country, on the ground that his copyright was secured under a law which did not contain that requirement, can not be heard to complain if he is remitted to his sole remedy of forfeiture and damages under that law, and is denied the right to prevent the importation of competing foreign editions under the very provisions of the later law from which he escapes. This suggestion unquestionably looks to the broad conclusion that such a copyright, relieved from the burdens of the present law, also takes no benefits thereby; but that general question is not before us, and, while I may suggest some doubts respecting Mr. Conrad's opinion, I am not compelled to overrule it, but merely to construe it as restricted to the case then submitted and as not controlling the present inquiry.
On the conclusion which I reach, that the requirements and prohibitions of section 1956 took effect in general prospectively, and do not embrace in their burdens (without regard to their benetits) a copyright obtained before March 3, 1891, I may cite one of the authorities quoted in the opinion in question, namely:
the new parts or the changed portions (of an amended law] are not to be taken to have been the law at any time prior to the passage of the amended act. The
change takes effect prospectively according to the general rule.” (Sutherland on Statutory Construction, sec. 133.)
Such new law, unless expressly applied, should not be held to diminish or injure rights rested under the earlier law.
I therefore answer your question by stating that the importation in question is not subject to the prohibitive provision of section 3 of the act of March 3, 1891, amending section 1956, Revised Statutes. I return the inclosures of your letter, as requested. Very respectfully,
JOHN W. GRIGGS. The SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.
Merchandise seized for violation of section 32 of the act of July 24, 1897
(30 Stat., 151, 211), should be appraised under the provisions of section 13 of the Customs Administrative Act of June 10, 1890 (26 Stat., 131,
136), and not under section 3074, Revised Statutes. The customs administration provided by said act of June 10, 1890, is a
complete, uniform, and universal system, substituting exclusive reme
dies for those previously in vogue. The method of appraisement authorized by said section 13 is the exclu
sive method to be employed on the civil side of customs revenue administration, and applies to all cases where appraisement is involved, and no question of criminality or fraudulent illegality arises prior to
appraisement. The appraisement procedure in undervaluation cases which aims at the
lery of additional duties is none the less civil because forfeiture may
be incurred as a possible ultimate result. Section 3074, Revised Statutes, may properly be held to refer to such
provisions as existed when the Revised Statutes took effect.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE,
January 25, 1901. Sir: Your letters of December 3 and December 18 present for my consideration the question whether, at ports where there is but one United States appraiser, it is necessary to have merchandise, seized for violation of section 32 of the act of July 21, 1897, appraised by two competent and disinterested citizens of the United States under section