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Again, as disbursers of public funds provided by taxation we object to any provision which would limit our source of supply of books.
Again, the English edition is often a different one, and better, for certain reasons, for library purposes than the one published in the United States. Books have been published in England with more plates, with more appendices, on heavier paper, with better binding than the American edition. Is the American public to be deprived of the use of these editions through the public libraries?
Again, there is no obligation on the American publisher or copyright proprietor to keep in print any decent edition of any book, and there are books of which there is no decent edition in the United States. There are books on which a copyright still runs which you can only get in 10 or 20 cent paper-covered editions in the United States, and of which you can secure editions on good paper, with good type and durable binding, in England. And there are books by authors in the English language which can not be procured either in England or America, and yet are copyrighted books and can be procured in Germany. Are we to be deprived of securing these books at all because of the fact that the Ainerican copyright proprietor does not care to publish a decent edition?
Again, gentlemen-I am speaking very rapidly in order to cover these points in the ten minutes--the privilege given the American publisher or copyright proprietor as to supplying copies of his edition is too vague. You write to him for a book. He says it is out of print. The copyright still binds, you notice. You ask him, “When will you reprint it?' “Well, I think I will reprint it soon." He does not reprint it. You can not import the American edition for the public libraries. The people are not allowed to have that book. This is mostly in case of the replacements of which I was speaking, and a replacement, if any book, is a book that ought to be upon the shelves. You can wait a little while with new editions; you can hold people back for a few days and say, “We have not got the book yet.” But if a man comes to our library and says, “ On your catalogue is this book,” it is our duty to give it to him, and there is no excuse he will take. He will not take as an excuse the statement, “ Why, that book is worn out, and I have not been able to buy another copy. And that is just the book which the American copyright proprietor can prevent you from obtaining for any number of months while he is making up his mind whether it will pay him to reprint it, simply because he is the copyright proprietor.
As it is now, we go to them and ask them if they have a certain book. If they say it is out of print and that they are not going to reprint it right away, we get an English edition. If they say it is in print, we get the American edition, if it is a good one. No library buys abroad if there is a good American edition that can be obtained at the same price and of the same quality, because we do not want to lose the time. It takes from two weeks to two months to get a book from a foreign country, and we want to put the book on the shelves and serve the public as soon as we can. And then there is another thing: The books which are copyrighted in the United States and are printed abroad in ninety-nine cases out of one hundred are books which are copyrighted on both sides of the water, and it makes no difference to the author in any case.
Gentlemen, I am speaking in behalf of the public library, which, as I said, is a part of the municipal government of almost all of our cities in the country. This is a provision which will practically, if passed as it is now, make it impossible for a public library to import books, because of the difficulty of understanding and ascertaining what books are written by American authors and of obtaining the consent of the American copyright proprietor. I have prepared, or rather the Copyright League has prepared, a brief statement of these objections in print; and I would like to file copies and leave them with the members of the committee.
(A number of the printed copies above mentioned were distributed among the members of the committee.)
Mr. WEBB. You can get two books by making two different orders, can you not? You can get twenty books if you want to, if you just make different orders for them?
Mr. STEINER. The only difference is, as I have said, that it is an inconvenience which seems to me unnecessary in these two casesand these are the only two cases where I can conceive of the wanting of more than one copy. These two cases come in right along. A book will come out in England of which one copy will be wanted to keep in the reference collection and another copy to keep in circulation; or a book will come out and be allowed to get out of print in this country, and you will want two copies for replacement, and it is necessary to wait for another invoice. It is simply an inconvenience, without any advantage to the publisher on this side.
I can assure you, gentlemen, that other things being equal, nobody imports an English book. It is only when either the English book is much better in its physical characteristics or the American publisher is extortionate in the price he puts on the book that we get a book from abroad.
Mr. HINSHAW. This would mainly affect the large libraries, would it?
Mr. STEINER. It would affect large and small libraries. It is surprising how many libraries import books through the mail, and in very small invoices, because importation through the mails is a very common thing. We all get library books through the mails, as well as in the larger invoices, and the number of libraries in the country that are importing books by mail is quite large. It is impossible, of course, to tell how
LIBRARY COPYRIGHT LEAGUE.
[Bernard C. Steiner, president, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, Md. ; W. P. Cutter,
secretary, Forbes Library, Northampton, Mass. ]
“ The purpose shall be to prevent copyright legislation abridging the existing rights of libraries to import authorized editions of books."—(Article II, Constitution.)
SIR: The Library Copyright League has duly authorized its executive committee to present to you the following arguments against certain provisions of Senate bill 6330, entitled “A bill to amend and consolidate the acts representing copyright."
The signatures on the accompanying protest comprise 220 persons prominent in library work, 120 of these persons being chief librarians. A list of the libraries represented is appended.
The Library Copyright League is opposed to certain provisions of section 30 of said bill, believing that any bill which includes these provisions would be a distinct detriment to the educational interests of the country, and as such
an undesirable piece of legislation. The provisions of which we complain tend seriously to impair the freedom of public libraries to supply the public with good literature; the interests of the public library are of vital importance to all, as the libraries exist for the benefit of all the people.
The present provisions of law under which libraries import books restrict only the number that may be imported in any one invoice, limiting it to two copies.
The proposed legis on further limits the privi of impor the following respects :
I. It limits the number to be imported in any one invoice to one copy. This provision is objectionable, first, because it is sometimes desirable to have two copies of a newly issued book, one for reference and one for circulation; and secondly, because it is frequently desirable to procure in one invoice two copies of books bought in replacement of worn-out volumes.
II. It limits the importation to authorized editions, excluding so-called “pirated editions." The league has no objection to this limitation, except as it may delay the entry of other books contained in the same importing package.
III. It prohibits the importation of foreign editions of books by American authors copyrighted in the United States of America. This provision is objectionable for the following reasons:
1. We object to any provision which will interfere with the free public dissemination of the thought of the world to the citizens of our country through the public library system or will cause any delay in placing this printed thought before our readers. English editions of the works of American authors may, according to those provisions of the bill contained in section 16, be published abroad sixty days before the publication in the United States. Further, simultaneous announcement in America and in foreign countries is not required. Works are frequently announced in England weeks or months before they are announced in the United States. It is impossible to predict that a book will be issued by an American publisher until after he has announced it. This provision would therefore delay the ordering of any book from England until sixty days after it is published in that country, and if the book be not published in the United States a further delay will occur before the book can be procured from England. When a work is published as a serial in a magazine, the copyright of the work in such form preserves the rights of publisher and author, and enables them to postpone rissue of the work in volume form to such time as suits their convenience. Thus, a serial story appearing in magazines on both sides of the ocean has been published in book form in England in October and in America in the end of the following March. If the American publisher had never cared to issue the book in volume form in the United States, and the law be passed as now drawn, it would be practically impossible for the library to procure such a book.
2. It is in many cases extremely difficult to determine whether the author of a book is an American or not. The determination of this fact would require an enormous amount of labor both by the librarian of a library and the officials of the custom-house at the port of entry, and resultant delay in obtaining the books for circulation. In some cases, as in those of new or little-known authors, there are no possible means for a librarian to ascertain whether an author be American or not. There is no definition of the phrase "American author" in the bill, and the subject' is greatly complicated, inasmuch as some American authors publish books in England of which there are no American editions, as some Americans are domiciled abroad and as others have changed their citizenship and have become naturalized in foreign countries.
3. It will be difficult to determine whether a book is copyrighted in this country. This would require libraries to determine, by correspondence with the Copyright Office, the existence of a copyright in advance of ordering. No English exporter can determine the fact, as English publishers object to the printing of an American copyright notice on their editions and the proposed law makes no provision for such printing. We are convinced that the customs officials at any port of entry would be incapable of determining the fact, and that therefore the proposed provision would either result in enormous additional work on the part of these officials, greatly increased expenses, and exasperating delay, or would render the law incapable of enforcement. In
any event, it would result in serious delay in obtaining the books for circulation. The inclusion of one doubtful book in a case would undoubtedly result in the retention of the whole case in the custom-house until the question with reference to this book was settled.
4. To secure the consent of the American copyright proprietor, except in rare cases, is out of the question ; for in the first place, such proprietor may decline to consent; in the second place, it would often be impossible to get into communication with him; and finally, the labor and expense involved in seeking such consent would often be excessive, and would always be so great as to render frequent seeking of such consent prohibitory upon any library. While assignments of copyright must be registered in the Library of Congress, the changes in the address of the proprietor need not be registered there. In the case of a copyright forming a portion of the estates of deceased persons, extreme difficulty or insuperable obstacles would often prevent libraries from obtaining the consent of the executors, administrators, personal representatives, or legatees of such deceased persons.
5. As disbursers of public funds provided by taxation for the education of the people, we object to any provision which would limit our source of supply of books to the members of any such organization as the American Publishers' Association, whose policy has been to control the price of books by limiting the distribution to such retailers as would agree to maintain advanced prices and refusing to supply goods to those who will not so agree. Such limitation of our market is in effect a tax on a public educational institution, to be paid directly to the book trade of this country, and would make it possible for the publishers to fix the prices of books at any figure, and hence to tax us in any amount. We respectfully call your attention to a monthly publication known as the “ Book and News Dealer," in which is printed, in each number, a list of those dealers whose supplies have been stopped. This publication is the official organ of the American Booksellers' Association, as appears on the front cover of the publication. The agreement between the American Publishers' Association and the American Booksellers' Association to control prices has been pronounced illegal, as a violation of the Sherman antitrust law (26 Stat. L., 209), by a decision by the circuit court for the southern district of New York in the case of BobbsMerrill Co. v. Strauss. (Fed. Rep. 139, p. 155.)
6. The English edition is often a better one for library purposes than that published in the United States, or is different from that published in the United States in certain respects, as, for example, in character of paper or illustrations, addition of appendixes, etc. It is always desirable to obtain the completest and most durable edition for the use of the public who are the patrons of the public library.
7. There is no obligation upon the American publisher or copyright proprietor to keep in print any decent edition of a work. Public libraries are continually wearing out books and are forced to replace them. In procuring these replacements it is frequently found that certain books are issued in the United States only on poor paper with worn plates and in paper covers, while there is a neat, durable, and well-bound edition published in England. Libraries should be permitted freely to procure the best editions in these cases, wherever it may be printed.
8. The privilege given the American publisher or copyright proprietor as to supplying copies of his edition is too vague. If he should state that the book is out of print to-day, but will very shortly be reprinted, the public library should not be obliged to wait upon his pleasure, and thus the people be deprived of the use of the book for a time, whether any guaranty that the publisher may not change his mind and fail to reprint the book.
9. The Constitution of the United States (Article I, section 8) gives Congress the power “ to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” The proposed copyright bill purports to be drawn with this object. But under existing law authors have a right to all the protection that is necessary. They have a right to copyright in other countries under the act of 1891. They sell this copyright, either for cash or royalty, in England as in America. Once that an agreement is made they can not care whether a book is sold there or here.
We are confident that you will, after careful consideration, amend the bill in such a way as will retain for the libraries of this country the privileges which previous legislation has given them. The Library Copyright League, therefore, asks that there be omitted from the bill in the report of the committees the words after the words “ United States," in line 25, page 24 of the Senate print of the bill No. 6330, through and including the word “proprietor," in line 5, page 25, and that on line 19 of page 24 the word one be stricken out and the word two be inserted in lieu thereof.
BERNARD C. STEINER,
H. C. WELLMAN,
E. H. ANDERSON,
FREDERICK H. HILD,
STATEMENT OF H. C. WELLMAN, ESQ., OF THE PUBLIC LIBRARY,
Mr. WELLMAN. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I am vitally interested in this bill, and I have come all the way from Springfield to speak on it. I am very anxious to take it up, not only from the point of view of the librarian, but from the point of view of the general public, which has been, so far as I can see, very generally neglected. I want to take up together the two subjects if I can; because the general public's interest and the library's interest are closely related. I can not do it if you will allow me only ten minutes. If you will give me fifteen, or possibly twenty, I think I can.
Mr. McGavin. To what particular section do you direct your remarks now?
Mr. WELLMAN. I want to speak of section 1, subsection B, relating to the right to sell and distribute copyright books.
Mr. CURRIER. That is going to be taken up by Mr. Porterfield and other lawyers later on.
Mr. WELLMAN. It has a direct bearing on the libraries.
Mr. CURRIER. There is no intention at all on the part of the committee or any other human being to restrict the sale or to prevent the absolute title passing on the sale; neither here nor anywhere else is there any
such intention. The LIBRARIAN. It is certainly not the intention of those who drafted the bill, Mr. Chairman, and it may save some time to those who are to speak on the bill if that is clearly understood at the outset.
Mr. CURRIER. There is no intention to do that, and if any gentleman has any desire to correct the phraseology of that language, let him just formulate an amendment which meets his ideas.
Mr. WELLMAN. If that is not to be passed in that form, that is another thing. I simply had the face of the bill to go by, and in that event I should omit that.
The LIBRARIAN. This is Mr. Fuller's own statement about it:
“As to the pretense,” he puts it, “ of any prohibitive or limiting clause in the bill that would interfere with the selling or giving away of copyright books, or anything but the reproduction or republication by printing or public performance,” he says, “ it can not be patiently dealt with.” I quote that only to show that the committee