# Primary Sources on Copyright - Record Viewer
The International Copyright Bill, New York (1888)

Source: The University of Texas Perry-Castaneda Library: 'The International Copyright Bill,' The Nation (1888) 30: 44.

The International Copyright Bill, New York (1888), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org

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            Chapter 1 Page 2 of 3 total

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44                                    The Nation.                        [Number 1177

[3rd column:]


The bill which has been presented to the
Senate by Mr. Chace, but which it is an open
secret was drawn up by a well-known Phila-
delphia publisher, may be briefly described
to be a bill amending that portion of the Re-
vised Statutes of the United States which ac-
knowledges an author's or artist's equitable
claim to the fruits of his mental labor, and
grants a certain legal protection therefor—in
such wise that this protection is secured not
only to authors or artists who are citizens
of the United States, but to mental workers
the world over. The United States has been,
for many years, perhaps the only civilized
country which has failed to recognize the
claims of the author to a reward for his labor
without regard to his individual nationality.
To our eternal national disgrace, it must be
frankly admitted that this delay in granting
an act of simple justice has been entirely due
to the fact that honest legislation would affect
the purses of American citizens. And the
tardy measure of justice which our Congress
is now called upon to consider is impaired by
two regrettable limitations of the very right
which it is the purport of the proposed
act to establish and grant. It is admit-
ted that when legislatures accord legal pro-
tection to what has been acknowledged as the
moral right of any class, they may limit the
exercise of such right, by virtue of consider-
ations affecting the general good of the whole
people. And all States, with a single notice-
able exception, have abridged the property
rights of authors, by according legal protec-
tion to such rights for a limited period of
time. In no case, however, is legislation jus-
tified which attempts to restrain the exercise
of the universally admitted right of any one
class for the benefit of any other class, but
only when such limitation is beneficial to the
whole people.
      According to Senate bill 554, the rights
secured to the American author by the Do-
mestic Copyright Law are abridged when the
law is extended to include the foreign
author—firstly, by refusing to permit the
latter to manufacture his book wherever he
pleases; and, secondly, by further refusing to
permit him to supply whatever demand there
may be in this country for copies of his au-
thorized foreign edition. Stipulations of this
nature have never hampered the interna-
tional copyright legislation of European
States. As contributors to the American
press, with a regrettable lack of ingenuous-
ness, have striven to give the impression that
the American author is obliged by law to
print and publish his work in the United
States, it may be briefly but emphatically
stated that the Copyright Law of the United
States in no wise prevents an author who is a


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