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for Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, in Rotterdam, Holland, in the “Daddy Long Legs" case.
Mr. Vonck in December 1939 wrote as follows:
“Mr. Kilroe refers to the declaration dated October 2, 1922, whereby the Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs stated that American authors are protected in Holland and vice versa, but this declaration was revoked by the Dutch declaration of November 2, 1926, and neither you nor I had received any information about such a revocation.
“It happened that on November 2, 1926, the Dutch Chargé d'Affaires in Washington delivered to the Solicitor General in Washington a lengthy memorandum by which he not only withdrew the declaration of October 2, 1922, but expressly stated that American authors are not protected in Holland. This declaration seems to have escaped the attention of all parties concerned.”
MEMORANDUM FROM THE NETHERLANDS GOVERNMENT ON THE RECIPROCAL COPYRIGHT RELATIONS BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND THE NETHERLANDS
(November 2, 1926) The Netherlands Government have examined the question whether misunderstanding may not have been caused, as a consequence of changes made at varying times in existing legislation both in the Netherlands and in the United States and by declarations made by Her Majesty's Government in 1899 and in 1922, with regard to the basis on which rests the copyright protection granted to Netherlands subjects in the United States. Although it would appear from the wording of the Proclamation issued by the President of the United States in respect of this matter on February 26, 1923, especially when compared with the similar document of April 9, 1910, which it replaced, that the whole position was reviewed by the United States Government previous to the first-mentioned Proclamation being issued, and although a letter from the American Legation at The Hague of May 4, 1922 (a copy of which is annexed hereto), would seem to indicate that the American Government was at that time conversant with the copyright-law of the Netherlands, Her Majesty's Government are anxious to consider the matter with the Government of the United States without any delay now that they have been led to believe that misunderstanding exists.
The facts would appear to be as follows: In 1899, when in the Netherlands there was in force the old copyright act (“auteurswet”) of. June 28,-1881 (abolished in 1912), an exposition of the law prevailing by virtue of that act was addressed to the American Minister at The Hague by letter of the Minister for Foreign Affairs dated October 14, 1899. It was stated therein that, in the matter of copyright protection, American citizens had, according to Netherlands legislation, the same rights as Netherlands subjects and that the legal requirements which the former had to fulfill were exactly the same as those which the latter had to observe. The President of the United States, having regard to section 13 of the act of Congress of March 3, 1891, entitled "An Act to amend title sixty, chapter three, of the Revised Statutes of the United States, relating to copyright,” thereupon issued a proclamation, dated November 20, 1899, whereby the said act of Congress was made to apply to Netherlands subjects.
A new act of Congress in respect of copyrights was approved on March 3, 1909, followed by a Presidential proclamation dated April 9, 1910, extending to Netherlands subjects the benefits of the new act, with the exception of the provision of section 1, clause (e) thereof (which clause relates to mechanical reproduction of musical works) pending a reply from the Netherlands Government to a statment of the United States Government with regard to that provision. The new proclamation was not preceded by any statement from the Government of the Netherlands; according to a communication from the Department of State to the Netherlands Legation in Washington dated April 15, 1910, it was made in view of the fact that the Attorney General had then recently rendered an opinion holding that it was necessary, in order that the benefits conferred by the new copyright act might be enjoyed by an alien author or proprietor (not domiciled within the United States at the time of the first publication of his work), that new proclamation be made by the President in the case of those countries as to which proclamations were issued under the old act.
In response_to a new communication from the American Minister at The Hague, dated January 24, 1911, with regard to section 1, clause (e), o the American Copyright Act of 1909, a reply was sent on March 13, 1911, in which it was
stated that as soon as a decision would be taken to adhere to the revised Berne Convention, the Netherland Government would present without delay to the States-General a draft of a new copyright law, containing provisions for the protection of musical works against reproduction by mechanical instruments. It was added that on the presentation of that draft to the States-General, a treaty might be concluded to extend that protection to citizens of the United States. No further action was thereupon taken in the matter on either side
On November 1, 1912, a new copyright law came into force in the Netherlands. Article 47 of that law, first paragraph (a provision which later on was altered, as will be shown hereafter). then read as follows:
“Deze wet is van toepassing op alle werken van letterkunde, wetenschap of kunst, welke hetzij voor, hetzij na haar in werking treden voor de eerste maal door of van wege den maker zijn uitgegeven in het Rijk in Europa of in Nederlandsch-Indië, alsmede op alle zoodanige niet uitgegeven werken, welker makers zijn Nederlanders of andere Nederlandsche onderdanen,' Which in English translation may be read:
"This law applied to all works of literature, science, or art, published for the first time by or on behalf of the maker, either before or after its coming into force, in the Kingdom in Europe or in Netherlands-India, and also to all such not published works whose makers are Netherlanders or other Netherlands subjects.”
It is shown by the underlined words that from the moment at which this provision became law, it was questionable whether the condition of section 8 (b) of the American copyright act of 1909, on whose fulfillment the Presidential proclamation of 1910 depended, and which required a protection to be granted in the Netherlands to citizens of the United States on substantially the same basis as to Netherlands subjects, was still fulfilled. Under these circumstances it may be asked whether the new state of things ought not to have been explained to the United States in order to dispel any possible doubt. At the time, however, the attention of the Netherlands administration in matters of copyright appears to have been focussed entirely on its copyright relations with countries belonging to the Berne International Union, to which the Kingdom adhered in 1912; in fact, it was this adhesion which caused the copyright law of the same year to be enacted. In any case, no communication to the United States Government was made; whether because it was deemed unnecessary or because it was simply forgotten, the records do not disclose.
The war came, and therewith a state of affairs causing many external problems in connection with the defence of neutrality to engross the attention of the Netherlands Government, and hardly conducive to careful or even normal consideration of matters which, like the international protection of copyrights, were not then uppermost among the preoccupations of the Executive. It was in those circumstances, that in 1915 there was passed a “law further to amend the transitory provisions of the copyright law, 1912” (Staatsblad 1915 No. 446), which, whatever may have been the significance of the above-quoted article 47 of the law of 1912, was of great importance for the copyright relations between the Netherlands and the United States.
That law of 1915 contained various clauses calling for a not inconsiderable amount of comment in the shape of written explanations addressed to the StatesGeneral by the Executive. One small amendment however, which apparently was considered unimportant, only gave rise to the short remark that its aim was merely to make one of the provisions of the law of 1912 a little clearer; it elicited no written or oral parliamentary discussion. It was precisely this amendment which altered a point of primary importance in the basis of the copyright protection extended to Netherland subjects in the United States.
The small amendment in question consisted in replacing the words "niet uitgegeven”at the end of article 47 of the law of 1912, by “niet aldus uitgegeven;" not published” in the above-offered English translation thereby became "not thus published.”
Read in conjunction with the preceding words of the said article, "not thus published” would appear to be open only to one construction: “not published for the first time by or on behalf of the maker, either before or after its coming into force, in the Kingdom in Europe or in Netherland India.” In other words, all works of literature, science or art “not thus published” were henceforth unprotected unless the makers were Netherlanders or other Netherland subjects.
It is clear that this destroyed the fulfillment of the condition set forth in section 8 (b) of the American copyright law of 1909; that, this being so, the basis of the Presidential proclamation of April 9, 1910, insofar'as relating to the Netherlands, was no longer available, and that consequently Netherland subjects could no longer be held to be entitled to copyright protection in the United States.
This ought certainly to have been brought to the knowledge of the Government of the United States. The Netherlands Government regrets that the necessary steps were not taken to that end. There were perhaps extenuating circumstances in connection with this omission, but no valid excuse.
Her Majesty's Government do not know whether the clause in question of the amendment law of 1915 passed unheeded in the United States. The letter from the American Legation at The Hague of May 4, 1922 (a copy of which, as stated in the beginning of the present memorandum, is annexed hereto) would seem to indicate that the American Government was at that time conversant with the copyright law of the Netherlands. But there is no evidence in the possession of Her Majesty's Government showing that the United States were aware of the change which in 1915 was made in article 47 of the Netherlands coypright law and which has been explained above. The Netherlands Government, seeing that no observations concerning the matter were made no behalf of the United States, and that the presidential proclamation of 1910 was not withdrawn must therefore assume that after the law of 1915 the United States Government were still in the belief that the condition stated in section 8 (b) of the American copyright law of 1909 continued to be fulfilled in the Netherlands.
This was the state of things, when in its letter of May 4, 1922 (annexed), the American Legation at The Hague raised the question of protection of musical compositions from being reproduced by mechanical instruments.
This question was considered by the department concerned, but in giving consideration to it, section 1 (e) of the American Copyright Act, was considered as an isolated clause, and not (as should have been done) in its connection with section 8 (b) of the same act. The point was only contemplated as a question as to whether or not there was any special discrimination in the Netherlands between Netherlands subjects and aliens in the matter of protection of musical compositions from reproduction by mechanical instruments. Thus it was possible that the declaration was given which accompanied the note from the Minister for Foreign Affairs at The Hague to the American Chargé d'Affaires ad interim, dated October 2, 1922.
Naturally the American Government was thereby led to believe that, in addition to the condition stated in section 8 (b) of the American Copyright Act, the condition set forth in section 1 (e) of that act was then fulfilled by the Netherlands. This belief doubtless was at the root of the Presidential proclamation issued on February 26, 1923, in which it was declared that one of the alternative conditions specified in sections 1 (e) and 8 (b) of the act of March 4, 1909, was fulfilled in respect to the subjects of the Netherlands, and that the subjects of the Netherlands from and after that date would be entitled to all the benefits of the said act, including copyright controlling the parts of instruments serving to reproduce mechanically a musical work, as provided in section 1 (e) of the said act, in the case of all works by the Netherlands authors, which have been published on or after October 1922 and have obtained copyright in accordance with the law of the United States.
The Government of the Netherlands regrets that a situation was thus created for which there was no proper legal basis and that a declaration was made by which, whilst misunderstanding was prevailing in the Netherlands, misunderstanding was created, if not prolonged in the United States. Now that the position is realized, this early opportunity is taken to lay the matter before the American Government. That this was not done at the time when the American Proclamation of 1922 was issued, must be ascribed to the fact that that document was not then submitted to special scrutiny, precisely because it was assumed that the Proclamation was only to refer to mechanical reproduction.
The Government of the Netherlands have asked themselves whether, by reason of the fact that the Netherlands are a party to the Bern Convention, the third alternative condition stated in section 8 (b) of the American copyright act might be said to be fulfilled. But the recitals of the presidential proclamation of 1923, and a report on the act of March 3, 1891 (communicated by the Minister of the United States at The Hague on August 15, 1899), which report, although the act of 1891 has been repealed, would appear still to be of direct importance to this aspect of the question, create doubt as to whether that third alternative requirement has been met. The Netherlands Government therefore are examining the question whether the system of the copyright law of the country permits a modification of the law of 1912 which would meet the case for the future, and also whether a solution can be considered by them in the sense of adjusting the matter by making an agreement with the United States if this latter course would commend itself to the American Government.
Senator THOMAS of Utah. Mr, Melcher, have you your statement prepared ?
Mr. MELCHER. I have about a 5-minute statement I can make, or I can send it back to you.
Senator Thomas of Utah. We can hear you for 5 minutes, Mr. Melcher. Then, if you have a statement, you may also submit that.
STATEMENT OF FREDERICK G. MELCHER, PRESIDENT OF R. R.
BOWKER & Co., PUBLISHERS; CHAIRMAN OF THE COPYRIGHT COMMITTEE OF THE BOOK PUBLISHERS BUREAU OF NEW YORK CITY
Mr. MELCHER. My name is Frederick G. Melcher, president of R. R. Bowker & Co., publishers, chairman of the copyright committee of the Book Publishers Bureau, a national association of general trade book publishers, which has steadily sought to help in perfecting the American situation in the protecting and handling of literary property both at home and abroad.
I should like to make this brief statement, and to file more detailed analyses of the proposed program as it affects book publishing, past and present.
Book publishers see many cogent reasons for early action. Our books are being infringed around the world more flagrantly than at any other time in the exactly 50 years since President Harrison signed our first international code.
I have here current reports from the houses of McMillan, McGraw & Hill, Lippincott & Appleton, showing the appearance in Brazil of Shanghai photographic reprints of their copyright works. Again, we are constantly being reminded by those with whom we do business in other countries of the same language that we could improve our relations with them and thereby better trading possibilities in books.
Still again we believe that we must be prepared for a larger part in the exploiting of American literary property, which has begun to go on increasingly, and which is now beginning to affect manufactured books. We note also that any revision made now would have the full benefit of the several recent and thorough studies of copyright. However, with all these circumstances in mind, book publishers find that they are lacking a clear picture as to what can be the beneficial effect of the proposed treaties at this time, when so many countries with whom we are accustomed to have cultural relations are antagonistic or submerged, and where only one important Latin American country is a Union country, and where Congress, which must make our own law harmonious, and the informed leaders who must work with them in perfecting our law, are going to be absorbed in emergency problems, which may lead to hasty and unfavorable domestic legislation.
Senator THOMAS of Utah. Have you another statement?
(The formal statement subsequently presented by Mr. Melcher is as follows:)
Book PUBLISHERS BUREAU, Inc.,
New York, N. Y., April 17, 1941. SUBCOMMITTEE, UNITED STATES SENATE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS,
Washington, D. C. HONORABLE SIRS: You were kind enough, at the time of the hearing on copyright held April 15, 1941, to state that you would receive and print with the record an extension in greater detail of the opinions of book publishers on the proposal that the United States become party to the International Convention of the Copyright Union.
This statement is made by me as chairman of the copyright committee of the Book Publishers Bureau, a national association of trade-book publishers, which, together with its predecessor, the National Association of Book Publishers, has taken an active part in hearings and conferences looking toward improvement in our copyright law for the past 20 years.
At the outset, I may say that the book publishers do see many cogent reasons for action to protect, internationally, copyrightable material created by American authors, composers, and artists. Their works, and particularly their books, are being infringed throughout the world more flagrantly than at anytime in the 50 years since President Harrison signed the first code which gave our authors protection abroad, and foreign authors protection here.
I have received current reports from four prominent publishing houses—the Macmillan Co., McGraw-Hill Book Co., J. B. Lippincott Co., and D. AppletonCentury Co.-stating that photographic reprints of works copyrighted by them in the United States have appeared in Brazil and Shanghai. Reports received for many years past show that like pirating of the work of American authors has taken place in Europe, eastern Asia, and South America, and that these pirated editions have been extensively exported to other countries. Notorious in this respect is Japan, which in recent years has been a flagrant transgressor of the recognized rights of the owners of copyrighted works, in spite of its adherence to the Berne Convention.
We appreciate also that the entry of the United States into an international copyright convention, as it has done with respect to so many other international agreements, would be a friendly gesture at this time toward other nations, with whom our chief interchange in cultural fields has been books. Particularly is this true, in view of the fact that books published and manufactured in this country have played an increasing part in our export trade, and it might seem foresighted to perfect the provisions for international relations as preparation for the years ahead, when the United States may play a larger part than at present in the international exchange of creative materials. However, notwithstanding all these circumstances, which the publishers bear clearly in mind, they believe that there are cogent and weightier reasons why this country should not at the present become adherent to any international convention or union.
In the first place, even if no other reason existed why we should not at this time .consider such a convention or union, the chaotic world conditions affecting copyrights, as well as many other international relations, seem sufficient reason to stamp this as a most inopportune time for the United States to become party to an international convention.
With deep respect for your committee, it is difficult to understand how, at this time, one can reach the conclusion that any international convention will be respected by any of the continental countries in which copyrightable material has been published in the past, and it is equally hard to conceive, in view of the nature and policies of the governments which now rule the majority of the nations of the continent, that there is any chance that such an international convention can arrive at a code satisfactory to American ideals of intellectual freedom and respect for the intellectual products of thinking men.
It seems, further, that to enter into an international convention, when of all the South American countries, but two have adhered to the Bern Convention, might well be viewed by many other South American countries as a step away from a better understanding with the South American countries. This would be a most unfortunate occurrence, inasmuch as we are now making every effort to bring ourselves into closer relations with all the countries of the Western Hemisphere.
Furthermore, it is submitted that before the United States should become party to any International Convention of the Copyright Union, it should revise ita