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more or less informal as they were, were intended to sift, for your action, the suggestions about the proposed law, we had such distinguished jurists as Mr. Stewart, Mr. Fuller, and Mr. Wetmore—the latter a partner of Mr. Jenner—and the law as it stands had the approval of those gentlemen.
The LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS. I beg leave to apologize for interrupting, but I have seen a letter from Mr. Edmund Wetmore, chairman of the bar committee, in which he said that as to the individual's right of importation, Mr. Jenner was to make some statement to the committee and that Mr. Wet more left that to Mr. Jenner. So that it is not accurate to say that Mr. Wetmore approved of those provisions. It is not at all fair to Mr. Jenner to have him indicated as approving of this measure. The bar committees were advisory committees on questions of law.
Mr. JENNER. I will also state that Mr. Fuller coincides entirely with the views I expressed this morning. I have his assurances to that effect, given only day before yesterday.
Doctor STEINER. I talked with Mr. Steuart, and from his conversation I did not understand his views to be as now stated.
Mr. GEORGE HAVEN PUTNAM. I did not know anything of these matters. I point out that the action before this committee, of calling into question what I should denominate the elementary principles of copyright, comes late. More or less informal conferences were held two or three years back for a sifting of the different views; for a consensus of opinion; and while it is true that the representatives of thirty-odd bodies called to those conferences were interested in maintaining and securing copyrights, it is also true that any representatives desiring to be heard there in opposition to principles of copyright were heard very freely. And further I recall to you that fourteen months ago, at the preliminary hearing, when this bill was in a more or less formative shape and when it was your desire, of course, to have the work advanced to final action, there was then opportunity to present views in regard to this particular provision and it would have been a great saving of time to discuss them then.
Representative CURRIER. Did anybody except those having an interest in copyrights have notice of those conferences?
Mr. GEORGE HAVEN PUTNAM. I understand that the matter and the deliberations were referred to very largely in the public press; that various individual requests were received and that individuals did attend the gatherings in New York and elsewhere; and a great many opinions were received, digested, and considered. There was a little loss of time in bringing to bear a proposition which in my judgment has to do with the elementary principles of copyright.
What I advocate is in line with every copyright law which has ever been considered or enacted in this country. A proper copyright law should give to the producer an exclusive right to publish, vend, and control a certain article.
It is true that there would be certain inconveniences connected with such control. You may call it a monopoly, if you will. It is also true that from 1783, the time of Noah Webster and his work, it has been held throughout the country that it is to the interest of the community as a whole to encourage the production of literature and art, and it has been decided that that encouragement of literature and art could be secured only by giving to the producer and his assign
the control of that which he has produced. If the same control is not given to the assign as is given to the producer, the producer can not get from the assign the full value which he should obtain.
Representative CURRIER. All copyright legislation under the Constitution must proceed upon the ground that it is for the public welfare.
Mr. GEORGE HAVEN PUTNAM. Assuredly.
Representative Currier. It is not primarily for the benefit of the producer.
Mr. GEORGE HAVEN PUTNAM. For the general welfare. I simply point out to you that that encouragement to the producer and that the advantage, which you point out, to the community, can not be secured unless you carry out in good faith and consistently throughout your statutes the purpose of these words, "exclusive control."
The speaker this morning spoke of the attempt to take away from him and from other individuals a right that they have enjoyed for more than a century. I point out to the committee that that was a disingenuous statement. Up to 1891 there was no right to import into this country, under the law, any copyrighted book. What we are talking of to-day is the consistency, propriety, and desirability, in the interests of the community, of leaving the control of the copyright where it is vested in the law. All that happened in 1891 was that the range of copyright was widened, that we then decided to come within the boundary of copyright, and determined to secure for American workers, authors, and artists the right to get reciprocity between this country and foreign countries.
Representative CURRIER. Before 1891 we did not issue such copyrights, did we? So that the books that Mr. Jenner desires to import could be brought in very freely, because they were not copyrighted here at all.
Mr. GEORGE HAVEN PUTNAM. But it was decided up to 1891 that copyright books of foreign authors and artists should be put on the same plane as American books. There was no purpose of separating in any way the rights of authors of books originating abroad from those of authors of books originating here. The intention was to do here what was already done in Europe-put all books on the same basis; that if we granted copyright, we granted copyright. Any other plan would not carry out the intention of the law.
Mr. Jenner spoke as if copyrighted books, for one hundred years, could be brought into this country. Up to 1891 in every other country there was exclusive control. In no other country has there been anything done to undermine that control of the publisher.
The bill as you are now asked to pass it will still present certain inconsistencies, due to inevitable requirements, but we do desire that the inconsistencies shall be diminished and not added to.
You have acted, and we think very wisely and considerately, in the matter of increasing the term of American copyright in your proposed statute. So that it is brought into line with the terms.in Germany and the proposed law of Great Britain. Authors and publishers alike would attach more importance to security of tenure than to extension of tenure. The only simple way is, so far as control is concerned, to leave the control where it belongs.
Representative CURRIER. I understood you to say a moment ago that you did not want any change from the conditions existing prior
to 1891. Now, if we should provide in this law that a foreign edition of a book by a foreign author might be imported as Mr. Jenner suggests, does not that leave the condition of affairs just as it was prior to 1891 ? We do not allow importation into this country of copyrighted editions of an American author, but prior to 1891 could they not bring in a shipload of them?
Mr. GEORGE HAVEN PUTNAM. Because they were not copyrighted books. I merely pointed out that, as prior to 1891, copyright should not be restricted by political boundaries, but foreign authors should have rights.
Representative CURRIER. I understand you to say that you would be satisfied with the conditions prevailing prior to 1891 ?
Mr. GEORGE HAVEN PUTNAM. Yes; if you will allow me to prescribe some modifications.
Now, I come back to the matter of the assign. He is a citizen of the United States; he is usually a publisher; he is the manufacturer in the United States. In carrying out his undertaking and his business here he employs a larger or smaller number of working people in the United States.
I have had occasion frequently to differ very largely from my friend, Mr. Sullivan. He believes that it is essential for the purposes of those whom he represents that these restrictions should be imposed. His views having been accepted by the Government, they are accepted by us, of course. Mr. Sullivan understands that though we differ with him, we carry out loyally whatever has been arranged.
He will be in accord with me on this: The restrictions are a burden upon copyrights. If you put that burden on the top of copyright, you undermine, at the bottom, a part of the value of copyright. By leaving an open door for the importation of copyrighted books you lessen still further the value of that copyrighted property.
It seems to me that that would be an inconsistency of a serious kind. Just in so far as books manufactured are printed here by the use of American printers, just in so far as, instead of employing American printers, which is the purpose of your law, in so far as they are replaced by books imported from the other side, the second inconsistency comes to bear. You make a restriction on manufacture, and then do not carry it out. If we do arrange it, we ought to have at least the advantage of its carrying out.
We are publishing a history of English literature. It is an important work for American readers and the public. We send our travelers around the country, and they show that book to large numbers of people. I have paid a large sum for the American copyright of that work-a sum which ought justly to entitle the assign of the work to the results of his labor. That book comes here to this country, and just in so far as it comes in the property control, the manufacturing interest, is supposed to be cared for; just in so far as those two things are set at naught, the enterprise of American publishers will be discouraged. It is for us, who know, to state this, not because we have authority, but because we have direct knowledge. I say it will discourage very seriously, and will to a large extent prevent investment by American publishers—the buying of a market that we are not allowed to own after we have bought it.
In his presentation Mr. Jenner described at some length the importation of books from England or elsewhere, 250 or other number
of copies. Now, he was either forgetful or disingenuous in not bearing in mind that the imported edition has nothing whatever to do with what is concerned here. That was an irrelevant example of the wickedness of the importing publishers. It leaves him still free to do whatever he chooses on the other side.
The provision now in question which he desires to have restored is a distinction of class. The individual citizen in this country who happens to have a bank account in London can import his work by mail. He belongs to a small group, though it may be an increasing group. The English publisher is coming into the American market more and more.
One reason why there has been so great desire to import by mail is because a large proportion of the books coming in in that way do not pay duty. I admit that that is an advantage to the individual importer who has a bank account in London.
Representative CURRIER. But the individual importer has to pay di on his books?
Mr. GEORGE Haven PUTNAM. But many of them do not pay.
Mr. GEORGE HAVEN PUTNAM. Numbers of copies coming in by way of Canada do not pay duty.
Representative Currier. Having been in the customs service my. self, I will say that a customs official is detailed to go to the postoffice every morning and go over the matter with the postmaster to see what is dutible. It is not left to the post-office officials at all, but to the trained customs officers.
Mr. GEORGE HIJVEN PUTNAM. That is the fact, undoubtedly, in many post-offices, but there are a large number of post-offices in the United States.
The CHAIRMAN. You have had twenty-eight minutes' time.
Mr. GEORGE HAVEN PUTNAM. I did want to say something about a matter presented this morning.
The CHAIRMAN. If you will present it in writing, it will be just as well.
It is now 9 o'clock. Mr. GEORGE HAVEN PUTNAM. I see the difficulty. I was afraid that that would be the case, if these various charges and questions were left to so late an hour.
I point out to Mr. Currier that as the matter stands it is in favor of the English dealer. I say that an arrangement under which the American bookseller has to pay the duty on a book as it comes in, and has to do the advertising of the book in this country, and has to present it to the possible buyers here, and then let the advantage of his services and his outlay go for the benefit of the foreigner-such an arrangement is not just to the American citizen.
We are asking here for a law that we should trust would have a permanent interest-a permanent copyright law. It should be a law that would form a precedent for future legislation. I contend that it is esentially important that the provisions of this law should be in accordance with justice in the first place, with copyright in the second place, with justice to the American citizen, and with equal justice all round, not more in favor of one class than another. I do conteod that the provision which, I repeat, was put into the law of
1891, which we had been discussing for five years—that provision was not analyzed, though the purpose of the five years' consideration was that all provisions and suggestions should be analyzed. We never had an opportunity of considering that provision. That provision came out with the law, to our great surprise. So I say that that should not be considered a precedent. I say that that provision was ill-advised and that there is no clause in it which prevents the importation to-day of unauthorized productions. I had a printed list in my hand the other day here which included a recommendation to buy Wallace's Ben Hur in a pirated edition on the other side.
Representative CURRIER. You know that the committee do not desire to admit piratical editions.
Mr. GEORGE HAVEN PUTNAM. Most assuredly you do not intend to do that. But when books come in by mail, as they often do, no postmaster is authorized to define a pirated edition.
Representative Currier. It is not the postmaster who passes on it, but a trained customs officer.
Mr. GEORGE ILAVEN PUTNAM. But a customs officer can not detect a pirated European edition of a book from the other side. If a man should want to import an English edition of, say, Irving's works, a bookseller is applied to, and he writes to the proper party, and there is no difficulty in getting the work.
With the door thrown wide open, with everyone having a right to import two copies each week, fifty-two weeks in each year, you take away the reciprocity provisions of the law under which we give to the foreign book exactly the same status as to the home book.
The CHAIRMAN. I desire the record to show that I received a letter from the Secretary of State inclosing a copy of a letter from the American commissioners appointed to consider the relations between the United States and Germany regarding the arrangements of the two countries for the reciprocal protection of works of literature and art, and the modifications thereof which Germany would regard of value. A few days after receipt of the letter, I addressed a letter to the Secretary of State stating that his letter had been received and notifying him of these hearings, and expressing the hope that he would have some one present to represent the American commissioners and the committee would be pleased to consider whatever recommendations were made. The Secretary of State notified me that my letter had been referred to the American commissioners for consideration. I also notified Mr. North, one of the American commissioners, of the time of these hearings, and I was advised that they would have a representative here to speak on the subject-matter of the letter from the Secretary of State. I should like to ask if the gentleman is present here now to speak in behalf of the American commissioners appointed to consider the commercial relations between Germany and the United States.
(No response.) STATEMENT OF MR. C. P. MONTGOMERY, OF THE UNITED STATES
TREASURY DEPARTMENT. The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Montgomery, of the Treasury Department, wishes to make a statement.
(To Mr. Montgomery.) You may state your full name and your occupation.