« PrécédentContinuer »
author, his heirs or assigns, for forty years. In Brazil, author's life and ten years. Republic of Chili, author's life and five years after his death. Japan, author and his heirs for thirty years, or for works of great utility, forty-five years. Mexico, literary copyright is perpetual, registration and deposit obligatory. United States of Venezuela, author's life and fourteen years. In Belgium, for life and twenty years. In the United States, for twenty-eight years from the time of recording the title, and fourteen years more if the author, or certain representatives of the author, be living, and the title be recorded anew within six months before the expiration of the twenty-eight years.
It will thus be seen that the wisdom of the most enlightened nations in the world is unanimous in its recognition of the rights of authors in their works; differing only in the term of years for which those rights should be protected. In contradistinction to the views of transcendentalists, who follow Lord Camden, this must be regarded as the true view of the value and legitimacy of copyright property.
Assuming then that copyright is property, limited as above described, it seems only reasonable that it should enjoy the same privileges, and be subject to the same conditions everywhere, as all other kinds of property. England maintains this ground by granting copyright to every author of every nationality, but somewhat mars the gracefulness of the gift by insisting that in order to enjoy this right the author's work must be first published in England.
A foreigner publishing in France enjoys the same copyright as a Frenchman, whether he has previously published in his own or any other country or not; nor does a French subject injure his copyright by publishing first in a foreign country.
This being the case, France may certainly be regarded as being ahead of this country in its desire not merely to protect authors, but, as Lord Cairns puts it," to increase the common stock of the literature of the country."
It seems, however, that in countries having international conventions with France the rights of foreigners are made to conform to those conventions, and cannot be maintained by the décret-loi unless the work has been first published in France. Thus, although France was amongst the first to agree to and
adopt international conventions for the protection of foreign authors, such conventions would have been wholly unnecessary had all other countries recognised and adopted the same wise and liberal policy as that which exists in the French décret-loi, March, 28, 1852, with reference to the property of foreigners.* If such a view were universally recognised by civilised nations, the many complications arising out of the question of authors' rights would be imensely simplified. France must be regarded as in the van of this liberal policy; England next. I am not aware of any other countries giving these rights to foreigners, apart from international conventions, whilst America shuts herself selfishly up in her own great country, and refuses to give any rights whatever to foreign authors, unless they go over and enrol themselves as citizens under the star-spangled banner.
The first Copyright Act-that of Queen Anne, 1709 (8 Anne, c.19)--was passed professedly for the encouragement of learning, and secured to authors the sole right of printing their works for fourteen years; with another term of fourteen years, if living, at the expiration of the first, making in all twentyeight years at most. It seems, however, that in those good old times publishers were not so acute, or so grasping, or so anxious to cut each other's throats as in the present day; for it is said that long after the passing of this statute there was a custom carefully observed among publishers not to interfere
"Les droits conférés par le décret-loi du 28 mars aux auteurs et artistes d'œuvres parues originairement à l'étranger sont définis et réglés par la législation française; ils ne sauraient l'être par les législations respectives de chaque État. Ces auteurs et artistes sont assimilés aux auteurs et artistes d'œuvres parues originairement en France; ils ne peuvent être traités d'une manière plus favorable. Cependant, lorsqu'une convention a été conclue avec un État, ce traité modifie les effets du décret-loi du 28 mars, en tant que ses dispositions seraient en opposition avec le dit décret; les prescriptions de la nouvelle convention deviennent la loi spéciale des parties et les droits des auteurs et artistes de cet État sont réglés en France par la convention intervenue. Le décret-loi du 28 mars ne donne pas le droit aux auteurs et artistes d'œuvres parues originairement à l'étranger de jouir des bénéfices résultant, en pays étrangers, des conventions internationales; ils n'en peuvent profiter que lorsque leurs œuvres ont paru originairement en France.”M. DELALAIN, Nouvelle Législation des Droits de Propriété Littérarie et Artistique.
with one another's lapsed copyright, and thus practically a kind of perpetual copyright was recognised.
Then came the Act (15 Geo. III. c. 56) which gave perpetual copyright to the Universities; then the Act (41 Geo. III. c. 107) which extended copyright to Ireland; and the Consolidation Act (54 Geo. III.), which lengthened the term to twenty-eight years absolutely, and further for the life of the author if then living.
Next came Serjeant Talfourd's Act of 1842 (5 & 6 Vict. c. 45), which gave the author copyright for life and seven years after, or for forty-two years from date of first publication, whichever period might be the longest. This Act was followed by sundry others for the protection of dramatic pieces, art works, &c., and international copyrights covered by special conventions; but substantially, so far as literature in Great Britain is concerned, Talfourd's Act forms the law which protects literary copyright at the present time.
It has been deemed desirable to revise and consolidate the various Acts now existing, for which object a Royal Commission was formed whose Report was issued in the year, 1878. This Report formed the basis of "a Bill to consolidate and amend the Law relating to copyright," prepared and brought in by Lord John Manners and ordered to be printed July 29, 1879, but owing to pressure of other business it never came under discussion.
Another Bill has now been prepared by the joint efforts of "The Copyright Association" and "The Society of Authors,” in which most, if not all, of the provisions of the Lord John Manners Bill have been incorporated. This Bill only awaits the chance of a favourable hearing in Parliament to become law, and so set at rest for ever the many anomalies which the Commissioners have pointed out, pending which I have thought it well to retain here the suggestions of the Commissioners-with a revision of my own remarks thereon-so far as they have been affected by time and circumstance.
I shall also add here and there such items of information on the present Law of Copyright as I have found useful myself, and which may also prove useful to others. In this I shall be mainly guided by that admirable Digest which Sir James Stephen presented in the Report of the Royal Commissioners, 1878. I shall note, as far as practicable, any points wherein these recommendations of
the Commissioners differ from the Bill above referred to, which it is hoped may become law during the present session of Parliament, and the Text of which will be found in Appendix III.
The first point to which the Commissioners drew attention with reference to the existing law was that "its form as distinguished from its substance is bad. The law is wholly destitute of any sort of arrangement, incomplete, often obscure, and even when it is intelligible upon long study it is in many parts so ill expressed, that no one who does not give such study to it can expect to understand it." The first object of the Commissioners was therefore to reduce the unintelligible and heterogeneous mass of which the various Copyright Acts are comprised into an intelligible form, and they dealt with all these subjects systematically under the following headings:
Home Copyrights-Unpublished Works-Necessity for Copyright-The Royalty System-The Term of CopyrightBooks University Copyright-Place of Publication— Persons capable of obtaining Copyright--Immoral, irreligious, seditious, and libellous Works-Abridgment of Books Dramatic Pieces and Musical CompositionsDramatisation of Novels-Lectures-Newspapers-Fine Arts-Sculpture-Painting-Assignment of Copyright on sale of Pictures-Architecture-Registration and Deposit of Copies Forfeiture of Copies-Public Libraries-Music and the Drama-Penalties-Fine Arts-InfringementPiracy of Lectures-Colonial Copyright-International Copyright.
In the following remarks I propose to consider the subject of copyright chiefly with regard to the various aspects in which the interests of authors and publishers of books are affected.
DURATION OF COPYRIGHT.
The Commissioners propose :
1. The same term as that adopted by Germany, viz., for life and thirty years.
2. If, by convention, a common term should be fixed in all
countries, power should be given to adopt the term fixed by such international arrangement.
3. In case of posthumous and anonymous works and of Encyclopædias, the period should be thirty years from date of deposit at British Museum; in case of anonymous works the author should be allowed, during the period of thirty years, by attaching his name to an edition of his work, to secure the full time of life and thirty years. 4. Copyrights in existence at time of passing the Act should be extended to proposed term of copyright, subject to a proviso guarding against the alteration of existing contracts between authors and publishers. In no case should the duration of existing copyrights be abbreviated.
5. Copyright in essays, articles, or portions of reviews, magazines, or other periodical works of a like nature, if written by various persons for a proprietor, the same rights shall belong to him as to the author of a book, except that a right of separate publication reverts to the author after twenty-eight years, for the remainder of the period of copyright, and during the twenty-eight years the proprietor of the work cannot publish the articles separately without the consent of the author or his assigns. It is now proposed that the right of separate publication should revert to the authors of the articles at the expiration of three years instead of twenty-eight, and that this provision should be made retrospective. This does not apply to articles in Encyclopædias, which separately belong to the proprietor of the Encyclopædia, for the full period of thirty years. 6. It is recommended, with reference to articles in magazines, &c., as above, that during the period before the right of their publication reverts to the author, he should be entitled, as well as the proprietor of the magazine or periodical, to prevent an authorised separate publication.
The above proposals are somewhat modified by the Bill before mentioned (see Appendix III.).