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words of repeal there might be added a few others to the effect that, for the benefit of the buyers of books, no author's right in his copy shall exist for a longer period than sixty years, or during his own life, and that of his heir or heirs-at-law living at the time of his death. Until this step or its equivalent is taken, and the author's right is recognized as one not created, but modified and restricted by statute law, British authors in the United States, and "American" authors in Great Britain, can have no standing, no claim based on right, but only an appeal in misericordiam to the compassion of the legislature of either country.
What hope is there that copyright will be given to British authors in the United States, either as alms or as a right? Very little, in my opinion, although there is now a "movement" for it, and it is understood that a bill will be brought in. The bill may be brought in, and may become a law; but bills have been brought in before, and there have been movements for international copyright, but there is as yet no law. The nature of the opposition in the United States to an international copyright law has, however, been very much misrepresented to British readers, because it has been so much misunderstood by British writers. The facts of the case are monstrously distorted; the motives really at work being to British eyes, it would seem, quite invisible. It has been recently said, for instance, in a very influential quarter in England, that "certain publishers of New York regularly reprint every novel published in England." There could not be a wilder assertion, or one wider from the mark. The publishers of New York would not publish all the novels published in England, or half of them, if the authors would pay for putting them in type—that is, they would not be at the expense of the mere paper, press-work, and binding for the returns, without any deduction for copyright. By doing so they would certainly lose money. New York publishers print only a few of the best and the most popular novels published in England, and of these they calculate to sell large editions at about one-fifth of the London prices. It would be within bounds to say, that ten times as many novels are published in London every year as are published in New York, including the productions of both British and "American" authors. This and the assertion in the same quarter, that "for one American book stolen in England, one thousand English books are stolen in America," is mere "tall talk "—of the tallest kind. The latter statement may, however, be the result, not of a taste for hyperbole-who would presume to suspect the Thunderer of a proneness to exagge
ration!--but of ignorance of the fact that many books by "American" authors are "stolen" by British publishers in a way which robs the "American" author, not only of his copyright, but of his reputation. They are issued without his name, and are voided of whatever would tell of their origin. Even a man so widely known as Henry Ward Beecher has been subjected to this treatment. Equally untrue, with the added wrong of injustice, is the charge that "American" authors "could endure to see the spoliation of their professional brethren in England, but when their own property is handed over to be plundered they begin to see the matter in a totally different light." "American" authors have never been indifferent to the right and wrong of this question. They have always, those of them who did not profess the perilous art of political economy, insisted upon the unqualified right of the British author to payment for his book in the United States. This charge is quite as untrue as the kindred one which I first denied, that the "American" reading public is unwilling to pay the British author for his copyright.
What, then, is the difficulty in the way of that which seems to be admitted on all sides to be the simple, straightforward course of justice? It is this-that the admission of the British author to the unqualified control of his book would secure the "American" market to the British publisher, which, of course, is what the British publisher desires. Now, not only are American publishers opposed to this, but, what is much more important, all the paper-makers, the type-founders, ink-makers, binders, and printers, masters and men, every one of whom has a vote, and is a "constituent" of some member of Congress, protest with all their might against it, and demand protection against the British manufacturer. Looking at the subject from their own selfinterested point of view, they are right; for if the British author were admitted to unqualified copyright in the United States, and with him, of course, his business partner, the British publisher, all the crafts which live by book-making, would suffer so greatly and so hopelessly that at least half the factories and printing-offices would be shut before three years were over. For although books are generally published in London and in Edinburgh in a style and at a price which places them out of the reach of the general book-buying public in the United States, yet the same books could not be published in New York Boston, or Philadelphia at anything like the same prices, even at the "American" publisher's rate of profit, which is much lower than that of the British publisher; and when the latter does publish a cheap
book, he has so much advantage over his "American" rival that he can send his book to New York, pay freight charges, a duty of thirty per cent., and commissions, and yet largely undersell the "American" publisher, let the latter do what he will, free as the latter is of all these expenses.
"Free trade!" said a well-known Massachusetts printer in my hearing, "yes, I am for free trade. I want the London printer to start fair with me on this side of the water; then I am not afraid of him. That's what I call free trade. Any other kind of trade I go into with my hands and feet tied together. Much freedom there is in that for me!" He touched the point, which is the protection of American labour at high wages against British labour at low wages. If the book marts of the United States were thrown open to British authors and publishers, the result would be that the " Americans " would have all their books not only written, but printed and bound for them, in England and Scotland. Cheapness-whatever the quality of the manufacture-would ensure the latter; and as the British and American people are the same in race and language, and therefore in literature, the former would be an inevitable consequence of the latter. The prospect in view, then, under those circumstances, would be the extinction of the art of printing and of literature in the United States, except as they might be supported by cheap journalism. This is not mere speculation, but a conclusion from notorious facts. For instance, I know one rich publishing house in the United States that would like to publish an edition of Shakespeare's works in one handy volume, which would surely be received with favour; but the market is absolutely closed to them by two editions handsomely printed and neatly bound in London, which are sold in thousands all over the United States at one dollar and a half in "greenbacks," notwithstanding freight and high duties—a price which would hardly pay here the first cost of the unbound sheets. Shakespeare is free of copyright; but add to this price an author's percentage of copyright, and the difference would not be worth the "American" publisher's consideration in entering the field of competition.
The result of this condition of things is a policy which, if it ever admits the British author to copyright in the United States, will rigidly exclude the British publisher, even from the "American" market that he now commands, which, as he well knows, is very considerable—that is, every book by a British author, published in the United States, will be required to be manufactured there, and pub
lished by a citizen; and copies printed in Europe or Canada will not be admitted, even under an enormous duty, but will be absolutely excluded. The only Copyright Bill that ever was received in the House of Representatives with even a semblance of favour-and it was but a semblance-was one brought in by Mr. Morris, of Pennsylvania, just ten years ago. This Bill, which is now before me, provided-1st, that every book, map, musical composition, or what not, claiming the benefit of the Act, should be "printed and published in the United States, by a citizen of the United States;" 2nd, that the book should be "published and printed in the United States within one month after its publication in the country of which its author is a citizen;" 3rd, that if an author "does not choose to print another edition, then the work may be imported or reprinted by any one, free from the penalties of the Act;" 4th, that if the foreign author or publisher, or any person not a citizen of the United States, imported copies of the book into the United States for sale, the copyright should be forfeited; 5th, that periodicals and magazines should be excluded from the benefit of the Act; 6th, reciprocity. This Bill did not pass, or, I believe, get out of committee; but there was a chance of its passage, as far as Congress was concerned; and there was less outside opposition to it than had ever been known before in regard to a Bill of its kind. It will be seen that, as far as payment to the British author was concerned, the Bill was without limit or condition, but that it rigidly excluded the British publisher and printer from the "American" market, and not only so, but deprived the British author of all control over his own work, except that he was allowed to make a contract with "a citizen of the United States" for its publication or its republication in the United States within a certain brief period. This was to prevent him from saying that his book should not be published at all, because, for instance, he had changed his views, and wished to re-write his book; thereby in the first instance depriving "American" printers of work, and in the second putting "American" publishers to expense for his vagaries. In a word, the Bill was as radically unjust to the author as the statute of Queen Anne was, because, like that, it failed to recognize and respect the author's natural and absolute right over the product of his own labour. If any international copyright law is ever passed by Congress, it can hardly fail to contain all these provisions.* Nor would the mass of
* While this article has lain half finished on my table, a Bill has been framed, but has not yet been brought in, providing for international copyright. Some
British authors profit by such a Bill. Only a favoured few would receive copyright money, and the rest would fail to gain even the reputation which is gratifying to all, and which in the end does have money value. The result would be, that the wealthiest publishing houses in the United States—a very small number, half a dozen, all told-would publish and pay copyright for the works of a few British authors of high reputation and great popularity. The works of others it would not be to their interest to publish and pay copyright for; and these not being published by a citizen of the United States within the limited time, would be open to any one's use without any payment whatever. With free trade we shall have just international copyright— that is, copyright without any law upon the subject. And free trade will come when, by changes in the labour market, the cost of manufacturing is about the same on both sides of the water—that is, when, for the objects for which it is now desired, by those who do desire it, free trade will be worthless; and they, like others before them who have at last attained their ends, will cry, Too late, too late!
people have hopes that it will become a law. It is almost identical with Mr. Morris's, above described, but it extends the time during which a book must be published in the United States after publication in another country, to three months. Like Mr. Morris's, it excludes the British publisher and printer from the markets of the United States in regard to all copyrighted books, and it deprives the British author of the control of his own work.