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Senate bill S. 7 is a bill to amend the copyright law. It is now in committee. Action thereon is not expected in the immediate future. It contains this provision:
“Sec. 15. That all copies of any copyright material created by a citizen of the United States which shall be distributed in the United States in book, pamphlet, map, or sheet form shall be printed from type set within the limits of the United States or its dependencies, either by hand or by the aid of any kind of typesetting machine, and/or from plates made within the limits of the United States or its dependencies from type set therein; or, if the text be produced by lithographic, mimeographic, photogravure, or photoengraving, or any kindred process or any other process of reproduction now or hereafter devised, then by a process wholly performed within the limits of the United States or its dependencies; and the printing of other reproduction of the text, and the binding of said book or pamphlet, shall be performed within the limits of the United States or its dependencies. Said requirements shall extend also to any copyright illustrations, maps or charts within any book or pamphlet, or in sheet form. Said requirements shall not apply to works in raised character for the use of the blind.'
The 1909 copyright law contained the manufacturing clause, in the following language:
"SEC. 15. That of the printed book or periodical specified in section 5, subsections (a) and (b) of this act, except the original text of a bcok of forcign origin in a language or languages other than English, the text of all copies accorded protection under this title, except as below provided, shall be printed from type set within the limits of the United States, either by hand or by the aid of any kind of typesetting machine, or from plates made within the limits of the United States from type set therein, or, if the text be produced by lithographic process, or photoengraving process, then by a process wholly performed within the limits of the United States, and the printing of the text and binding of the said book shall be performed within the limits of the United States; which requirements shall extend also to the illustrations within a book consisting of printed text and illustrations produced by lithographic process, or photoengraving process, and also to separate lithographs or photoengravings, except where in either case the subjects represented are located in a foreign country and illustrate a scientific work or reproduce a work of art; but they shall not apply to works in raised characters for the use of the blind, or to books of foreign origin in a language or languages other than English, or to books published abroad in the English language seeking ad interim protection under this title.”
You will note the difference in the breadth of the existing law over that proposed in S. 7. Yet there are those who want the meager protection afforded in S. 7 struck out entirely. The existing clause should be retained.
Now, there are many ways of skinning a cat, and so those who have not been successful up to this time in trying to liberalize the copyright law, at the expense of the manufacturers and labor in the United States, have started another drive and from an indirect source, hoping to make mandatory through indirection that which they have not obtained by direct action.
Here is the present cat-skinning proposal:
An International Union for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works was created at Bern, September 9, 1886, and ratified the following year. In 1908, at Berlin, the requirements of the union were modified and again at Rome, in 1928. The convention met at Brussels in 1936 and a great effort was made to push the United States into the union at that time, but without success. The President sent to the Senate in 1935 the text of the international convention as revised at Rome, and recommended ratification of the same. The Senate did so, but promptly thereafter reconsidered and nullified its action. A similar treaty is now on the calendar of the present Senate. Action may come any day.
Our existing copyright law is not in harmony with the requirements of the Copyright Union and modifications will have to be made should the United States become a member thereof.
One of the necessary changes would be the emasculation of the manufacturing clause.
If the treaty is approved by the Senate, then the Congress will be bound to follow through and adopt the necessary changes in our copyright law. It will be bound to take out the present manufacturing requirement.
We will not here take your time to set forth other changes, inasmuch as the groups affected thereby will seek to clarify their own positions. It is not a case of clarification with the book-manufacturing industry or its employees. It is a case of elimination. If the treaty is ratified, the existing manufacturing clause will have to come out.
Those who sponsor our affiliation with the union say that the American manufacturer will profit by our membership therein. Dr. Wallace McClure, chairman of the Interdepartmental Committee on Copyright, says of the manufacturing clause, in a paper filed at the last hearings, “It is an unfortunate requirement of law from the point of view of sound economy. There ought not to be required a repetition of work. Human energy ought not to be expended in that way. There is plenty of other use for it. If an author residing in some other English-speaking country has published a book, it is sheer waste of effort, unless that book is to be of very wide circulation, to set up the type and go through the other labor of publication in this country. It is true, however, that, in many cases, where the circulation is to be very large, an American edition can be published without loss and would in fact be brought out regardless of the manufacturers' clause.
“Such a provision of law is in direct violation of the provision of the general copyright convention which guarantees to every author within the countries parties to the convention the enjoyment of copyright without formality.
“While the elimination of the manufacturers' clause might possibly reduce the amount of work done in the United States to a certain very minor extent, the increase in the export of finished books and other material resulting from the participation of the United States in the copyright convention, which must now be ‘published in some other country in order to obtain the protection of the convention, would at least make up for the reduction and might very probably exceed it. Accordingly, publishers and labor have nothing to lose from the entry of the United States into the convention; without such entry, they have a very definite threat of loss as a result of retaliation. If the United States insists upon keeping the manufacturers' clause in its statute law, whether in the form in which it exists in the act of 1909 or in the form of the amendment inserted into the Duffy bill, the danger of loss far exceeds any possible use the clause may have as a stimulus to employment in this country.” (Report of hearings, Committee on Patents, 74th Cong., 2d sess.)
Mr. “A,” one of those who seeks a change in the law, writes:
"The printing and manufacturing interests in this country will be better off under the proposals than they are at the present time and for the following
“1. With regard to our Canadian market.-The largest export of manufactured books from the United States goes to Canada. At present under retaliatory copyright legislation any American book that has a good success there can be re-manufactured in Canada without permission from the American publisher under a compulsory license. This threat is constantly over the heads of American publishers and would mean a lower-priced edition just across the border which they could not control.
"2. With regard to foreign markets in the English language.—Since the present copyright bill was approved there have been great changes in the situation of comparative manufacturing conditions. The United States has gained over England in exports to Canada and our exports to England have increased. Specifically three types of books could be mentioned—the 10¢ books which are manufactured in America and are better books for the money than are made in England. These would be exported to sell for 6d. The so-called odd penny priced specials, staple books on all subjects issued here from $1.00 to $2.00 and this is cheaper than the cost of similar books in England. Large-sized English classics, for example, the Modern Library Giants, $1.10, are being exported to England and sold at 5s. High-class American children's books which are making their way in the English market because our illustrators and our color printing are superior. Other English-speaking countries, especially Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa are showing more interest in our books.
"3. With regard to the British market.-As stated above, American exports to Great Britain and to other English-speaking countries have been on the increase and with America in the International Union all American books would be there protected, avoiding the possibility of unauthorized editions. Today only such books are protected as the publisher protects by simultaneous publication in London.
“British publications in the United States. The 'manufacturing' clause of the present legislation was placed in the bill in 1891 to protect American printers and at that time a large percentage of books for the American market were coming from England and were of English authorship. At present approximately 1 book in 10 of English origin is registered here for possible publication and about 1 book in 15 is so published. The others lose their copyright in this country. Under new legislation all English publications would receive their copyright in this country on creation and the 1 book in 10 which seems to have likelihood of an American market would not have to be printed here to obtain copyright. However, and this is where the printers would make great gains, the proposed drafts for revision provide that unless the American publisher shall manufacture his edition in this country, he will not be protected at the customhouse from importations through other agencies. That is, although an English author has a copyright here, his American representative is forced to manufacture here in order to have protection from competition.
“Another fact, and this is very important today when books do not get manufactured here and lose their copyright, it is worth no publisher's while to undertake a subsequent printing and publishing of such a book here. Therefore scores of manufacturing jobs are lost each year to American plants because no publisher can undertake the risk of printing a noncopyright English work. Under the new arrangement an American publisher could bring over an experimental edition of the English form and then if a market developed could remanufacture here and still control his book which is necessary for the venture.
"Again, another important point, the present law as written in 1891 provides that English books may be manufactured here by lithographic reproduction even
the type is set in England. The proposal for revision provides that all the process would have to be done here if the publisher is to get his customhouse protection.
“For these three reasons as related to English books there is evidence that a revision of the law along lines of the proposals should bring a real increase in American manufacturing and the retarding of such revision by printers will cut off work from American book manufacturing plants.
“4. With regard to the manufacturing provision as applied to American authors.This situation is exactly as it has been before, with still an extra 10 percent, 25 percent instead of 15 percent, on books by American authorship which might be brought in, a prohibitive barrier against any general importation.
“In brief.-American book manufacturing plants have much to gain by proposed revision of copyright law.
"1. By removal of present threat of cheaper unauthorized editions of American books made in Canadian market.
“2. By improving our standing in the eyes of other countries to whom we are having increased exports.
“3. By increasing the possibility of the manufacturing of books of English authorship in the United States by the maintenance of property rights in all English books.
4. By lessening the number of books lithographically printed here from English type as editions so manufactured would not receive customhouse protection.
Neither Dr. McClure nor Mr. “A” gives any authentic data to support their claims. Mr. “A” speaks of the large (?) export of manufactured books to Canada and the threat that a lower-priced edition of a best seller may be obtained just across the border.
Let us examine into these allegations and claims, eschewing generalities and platitudes for the logical inferences to be drawn from the cold facts as shown by the record of production in various countries and the extent of imports and exports as they affect the United States.
It is true that Canada is our largest export customer in the graphic-arts field. Here are the figures released by the Government. Of the total exports for books to Canada in 1936, amounting to $1,768,496, we find that educational books amounted to $344,336 and other bound books to $1,399,147. The remainder of $25,013 consisted of unbound books in sheets. The exports were “far short of sales to Canada in 1929."
“Canadian imports of books of fiction, literature, and general appeal are divided about evenly between American and English editions.
Generally, in view of the higher costs, it is not the practice to print a Canadian edition of a popular American or British book. It is reported by trade sources that a sale of 5,000 copies of a popular United States book is unusual, as most 'best sellers' have an average distribution of only 1,000 to 4,000 copies.
There was an increase in exports in 1936 due to the favorable tariff treatment accorded books under the United States-Canadian Trade Agreement which then became effective, but even with this help the amount is far below the 1929 figure.
In 1929 the value of our books, including pamphlets, exported to Canada was $7,018,894. In 1935 it was $1,628,504, and with the help of the new agreement in 1936 it rose but a trifle to $1,768,496.
Canada has a population (1931 census) of about 10%2 million. French is the common language of 234 million and English of less than 6 million. Official publications of the Dominion Government are largely in French and English. The entire English-speaking population of Canada is less than that of the city of New York.
These figures demonstrate clearly that the Canadian market is of such character that we need not be concerned therewith insofar as the questions under consideration pertain thereto.
The answer to the Canadian threat may be fouud in a new all-American treaty or in the protective tariff, if such protection is needed. One hears very little about any untoward effects of existing conditions. The fact is that the State Department has just given notice of a proposed pact with Canada. Let the publishers move promptly to remove the “threat” under provisions to be inserted in that pact. There is nothing in the Canadian market to justify the elimination of the manufacturing clause from the copyright law.
This threat of lower prices in Canada is a bugaboo that is slightly more ephemeral than a manufacturer's profits.
Now, let us look at Great Britain from whence will come the great influx of English language books when the treaty is signed, the pact completed, or S. 7 enacted.
First, we will analyze statements of titles published in Great Britain and Ireland during the years 1936 and 1937 as compared with similar classes of titles published in the United States (figures from The Publishers' Weekly, January 15 and 22, 1938).