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(By direction of the committee the paper above mentioned is incorporated into the record; and the same is as follows:)
DECEMBER 6, 1906.
STATEMENT OF THE DELEGATES OF THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION TO THE
RECENT COPYRIGHT CONGRLSS OF THE RELATIONS OF THAT ASSOCIATION TO THE PENDING COPYRIGHT BILL,
We desire to submit the following statement of what we conceive to be the official position of the American Library Association in regard to the proposed bill. The undersigned were delegates of the American Library Association to the copyright conference and are now a committee of that association to watch the progress of the bill and to do what may appear to be necessary for the interests of the association in connection therewith.
At the first meeting of the conference, June 2, 1905, the delegates protested against the proposed exclusion of foreign editions of works copyrighted in this country, and stated that, although no formal action has been taken by the association, the matter would be considered by it at its meeting in Portland, Oreg. In reporting this action at that meeting, July 7, 1905, the delegates recommended that the question be referred to the council for consideration and action. Accordingly the council requested the executive board “ to take measures for the representation of the association at future conferences on the revision of the copyright laws, and in behalf of the association to protest against the inclusion in the copyright law of the provision prohibiting importation of copyrighted works into the United States without written consent of author or copyright proprietor, or to secure some modification of the same."
The delegates, having been reappointed, attending the two remaining sessions of the conference, November 1-4, 1905, and March 13–15, 1906, and in the interval had an informal meeting with the representatives of the American Publishers' Copyright League, at which the latter signified their willingness to modify in great measure their demands for the exclusion of foreign editions. Being convinced that the draft of a copyright bill as agreed on by the conference would inevitably contain a clause lessening the present privileges of libraries in the importation of American copyright books, and desirous, in accordance with their instructions quoted above, to secure as great a modification of such restriction as seemed possible, the delegates agreed to accept a clause which differs in no important respect from that now embodied in the bill under discussion. This clause was not finally put into shape until after extensive correspondence and a conference of the executive board with the representatives of the American Publishers' Copyright League, at which the delegates were present. The resulting compromise, which received the unanimous approval and concurrence of the executive board, was presented to the council of the association at its meeting in Atlantic City, N. J., March 10, 1906. At that meeting some members of the council expressed disapproval of the action of the delegates and the executive board, and a number of motions were introduced looking toward specific instruction to the delegates, but no definite action resulted from any of them.
At the close of the sessions and after the last hearing given by the Senate and House committees, beginning June 6, 1906, the delegates again reported to the council at its meeting at Narragansett Pier, July 5, 1906, explaining in full the various steps that had been taken and giving their reasons for the same. The council voted that their report be accepted and their recommendations adopted “and that the thanks of the council be extended to the delegates for their successful efforts."
The undersigned were appointed as a committee to watch the progress of the bill, as stated above, and a resolution introduced to give them specific instructions was voted down by a large majority.
Under these circumstances the undersigned regard their action as beyond doubt the official action of the American Library Association. The Association by every means open to it has approved as a body the part of the present bill affecting the interests of libraries, and any expression of disapproval must be that of individual libraries or librarians and not of the association as a whole. Very truly yours,
FRANK P. HILL,
ARTHUR E. BOSTWICK, Committee of the American Library Association.
Mr. BosTWICK. At the time when this conference was formed the American Library Association was requested to send delegates to it. All the members of the association and also the delegates recognize that the provisions of law as they stand were extremely favorable to us, and we had the option of staying out of this conference and of insuring that a bill would be introduced which would be detrimental to our interests, and relying on that fact, so that we might have the best chance possible to kill the bill by protesting. Or the American Library Association had the option of going into the conference and of then, in the conference, trying to arrive at the best terms that we could with opposing interests and then trying to put the bill through in that shape.
The American Library Association chose the alternative of sending delegates to the conference and of instructing them to protest against the rather drastic provision which the publishers and authors then proposed to put into the bill—of absolutely prohibiting all importation of American copyright editions either by libraries or by individuals or of endeavoring to secure some modification of this provision. We did so protest, and we were very successful, as we feel, by conferences with the publishers and authors, in securing the modification which is embodied in the present bill.
The principal meeting at which that modification was secured was a meeting of the executive board of the American Library Association, with a large number of persons interested, among whom were some of the librarians who are now protesting against the bill. It was supposed at the conclusion of that meeting that a very large majority of the librarians were in favor of the compromise as embodied in the present bill. It now appears that there was a very large number of individual libraries and individual librarians that are not satisfied, and that protest against it. But the representatives of those librarians have never succeeded in passing through the executive board of the association or the council of the association any instructions to the delegates, Mr. Hill and myself, to act otherwise than we have acted. And we feel, as stated in the document which I have just submitted, that our action in securing this compromise has the approval of the association, and that it may be taken as the official voice of the American Library Association.
After making this clear to the committee I think it is not necessary for me to speak at any length, or to speak at all regarding the merits of the bill. Of course the participants in the compromise always recognize that the compromise is not what they would prefer. They always have to give in a little. But we feel in this instance that the librarians have given in a very short distance, and that the distance that the publishers and authors have come to meet us is very much greater than the distance we have gone to meet them. And I feel personally that there is nothing in this bill that the American Library Association could legitimately object to; and it stands, in my understanding, as the official voice of that association.
The LIBRARIAN. Of the gentlemen in opposition to this provision, Mr. Chairman, I note the presence of three--Mr. Cutter, of Northampton, Doctor Steiner, of Baltimore, and Mr. Wellman, of Springfield. Have you arranged, gentlemen, which shall address the committee first?
(It was indicated that Mr. Steiner would speak first.)
STATEMENT OF BERNARD C. STEINER, ESQ., LIBRARIAN OF THE
ENOCH PRATT LIBRARY, BALTIMORE, MD.
The CHAIRMAN. Do I understand that you appear for all the gentlemen who are here representing the opposition to this provision of the bill?
Mr. STEINER. Mr. Cutter and Mr. Wellman would like a few minutes after I have spoken, sir. We would like to divide the time.
The CHAIRMAN. How much do you wish ?
The CHAIRMAN. It does not seem to us, Mr. Steiner, that it is at all necessary
to have an hour. Mr. STEINER. Mr. Chairman, we of course can take less time; but this is a new organization that has taken its origin since the last hearing, and has had no opportunity to appear before.
Mr. CURRIER. Mr. Čutter was very fully heard at the last hearing.
Mr. STEINER. Yes; that is perfectly true; but the arguments which will be made by me are not the arguments that were made at the last hearing.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, you are here to present those arguments.
Mr. STEINER. After that Mr. Wellman would like to appear; he has not had a chance to be heard; and Mr. Cutter would like to present some observations from another point of view. I think, gentlemen, that you will find that the hour may well be spent.
The CHAIRMAN (after consultation). The committee has decided to give you ten minutes apiece.
Mr. STEINER. Gentlemen, first I desire to file with the committee the following protest, signed by the librarian of every important library in the United States, with only two or three exceptions:
We the undersigned members of the American Library Association protest against any alteration of the existing law that will impose restrictions upon the importation for libraries of any books except pirated editions.
There are over 200 signatures to that, over 150 of them the librarians of important libraries in this country, including nearly every important library.
Senator SMOOT. Then we are to understand that the executive committee does not represent the sentiment of the libraries of the United States. Is that it?
Mr. STEINER. Personally I should say you certainly may so understand.
Senator LATIMER. Why do you not control their action, then ? Can you not do it?
Mr. STEINER. May I leave that to the other persons who will speak?
I propose, sir, two amendments to the bill, which I will make very definite, and then will support them in a few words. That on page 24 of the Senate bill, line 19, the word “ one " be stricken out and the word “two” be inserted in lieu thereof; and that beginning with the word “but,” in line 25, at page 24 of the same bill, all the words be stricken out down to the close of the third paragraph.
I propose, sir, the first amendment because it frequently happens that it is extremely desirable for a public library to import two copies of a book in one invoice. It is extremely desirable frequently to ha one copy for reference and another for circulation.
Mr. CURRIER. It would be more desirable still to import half a dozen, would it not?
Mr. STEINER. No, sir; two would be plenty. It is also very desirable, and in my own experience I have frequently had occasion, to import two copies of books for replacement. I do not believe that there has been brought before you the importance of the importation of books for replacement. In our library we replaced last year 2,700 volumes which had worn out.
The public library is a part of the public educational institutions of the country. It is an institution for the public culture. It is supported by the public. It is given special privileges by the public. It is a tax-supported institution. It is a branch of the municipal government in many cases. In my own library the title to the buildings and the books and all the property we have vests in the mayor and city council of Baltimore. Therefore the Government quite properly gave special privileges to the public library, and among those special privileges was the privilege of importing two copies for use, and not for sale, of all books which are published in any part of the world.
Now, with regard to the prohibition of the importation of foreign books by American authors, copyrighted in the United States of America, we object to that.
In the first place, we object to any provision which will prevent the public, with the money raised from the taxpayers, having the best possible means for the education of the people. It is very difficult, indeed, to find, furthermore, when an English edition of a book or an American edition of a book are going to be published. An English edition may be published sixty days before the publication in the United States. Simultaneous publication in the two countries is not required. A book may be published under one title in one country and under another in another. It is impossible to predict that a book will be issued by an American publisher until after he has announced it. I have bought books by American authors in English editions of which there were no American editions. I have bought other books published by American authors in England, and after I have bought them I have found later that there was an edition in America. The publication of a book in serial form is not sufficient to secure copyright. I have bought a book of an American author in the fall of one year, and the book was not published in book form in America until the spring of the next year. Is the public library to be deprived of the books during that time? Is the public library to be in the hopeless condition of being unable to find out whether there is going to be an American edition or not?
In the second place, gentlemen, what is an American author? Is an American author a citizen of the United States? Is he a person domiciled in the United States? Was Rudyard Kipling an American author when he was domiciled in Vermont i Is Walter Phelps Dodge an American author who is domiciled in England? William Waldorf Astor, I have no doubt, was once an American author. I assume that he is not now an American author. Have we to keep watch of the naturalization records in the courts to be sure who are American authors?
This is not only true, gentlemen, with reference to books printed in the English language. One of the largest Yiddish centers of publication in the world is New York City. German books are printed in New York and Chicago. The largest Lithuanian publishing house in the world is in Plymouth, Pa. It is impossible to determine who an American author is, either from his name or from the character of the book which he prints; and the biographical dictionaries unfortunately do not give us information concerning the gentlemen who write books.
Again, it is frequently difficult to tell whether a book is copyrighted in this country. This would require libraries to enter into correspondence with the Copyright Office before we ordered books. The books printed in foreign countries, as has already been called to your attention, do not contain such' notice. We are convinced that the customs officials of the port of entry are incapable of ascertaining the fact, not because of the lack of their intelligence, but because of the enormous complexity of the situation. Millions of articles have not been copyrighted both in the United States and in Europe. The inclusion of one doubtful book in a copyright invoice may cause that invoice to be held up for weeks and months and the people of the city to be deprived of the use of the book in that interim. And do you gentlemen realize that the public library is regarded as such an important institution in the State of New Hampshire that every town is required to have a public library unless, by a vote taken year by year, it decides not to have one; and that in the public libraries of the country every man, woman, and child in the towns where they are established of the persons who can read and write form a proportion of from one-fourth to one-tenth of the readers of the public library possessing borrowers' cards? Are we prepared to deprive such a proportion of the population of the use of the books?
Mr. CURRIER. How many libraries in the State of New Hampshire do you suppose ever took advantage of this provision and ordered books?
Mr. STEINER. I do not know, sir. I am not a citizen of the State of New Hampshire. I simply know that it is regarded as a very important public interest.
Mr. CURRIER. I am a citizen of that State, and I should imagine that none of them but the State library has done so—the one institution.
Mr. STEINER. Furthermore, to secure the consent of the American copyright proprietor, except in rare cases, is out of the question. In the first place, he may decline to consent. In the second place, it is often impossible to get into communication with him. The bill does not say the author, but the American copyright proprietor. And, finally, the labor and expense involved in getting his consent would be so great that it would be impracticable so to do. Assignments of copyright must be registered in the Library of Congress. I find no rule that the address of the person who is the owner shall be registered there. Furthermore, suppose a man dies who owns a copyright. The copyright forms a part of his estate. Can his executor give that consent! Can we find his personal representative? Who are his legatees? Who owns that copyright? Is it possible for them to give the consent?