No. 195.
Mr. Bingham to Mr. Fish.

No. 366.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith a translation of the law recently enacted by this government in relation to the publication of books within His Imperial Japanese Majesty’s empire, and securing a copyright to authors. This translation has been carefully made by Mr. Thompson, the interpreter of this legation, who brings to the discharge of his duties a knowledge of the Japanese language acquired by twelve years of careful study. Why Congress should seek to cut us off from the services of such a man, without which service we are really unable to know what is done here, is beyond my powers of conjecture. It is needful for the Government, as it is needful for its agents, to know what is being done affecting the rights or interests of citizens of the United States here, as elsewhere.

* * * * * * *

I have, &c.,


No. 135.
Proclamation in regard to copyright and printing of books.

Notification is hereby made that the rules to regulate printing published by the mombusho (department of education) of date the first mouth of the fifth year of Meiji, (January, 1872,) have been repealed, and that the following rules are enacted.



Rules to regulate printing of books.

When any one has written a book or translated a foreign book, and is about to print it, before printing he shall give notice of his intention to the naimusho, (department of the interior.)
The regulations of mercantile and other companies, school catalogues, and regulations and notices of various kinds, are not here included.
When any one has written a book or translated a foreign book, and is about to publish it, he may obtain the right of exclusive sale for thirty years. This right of exclusive sale is called the copyright. Each author or translator is at liberty to apply for a copyright or not, as he prefers. Those who wish to obtain a copyright should petition for and obtain it. When this is not done, any one is at liberty to print a book at the same time with the author.
Though it is not necessary to send a copy of the intended publication along [Page 372] with the notice to the naimusho, nor along with the request for a copyright, yet some times a copy may be demanded for examination.
When the copies or the printed books deposited in the department have been examined and found to be injurious to society the printing and sale shall be prohibited and the type destroyed.
Both the notice to the naimusho and the petition for the copyright should be forwarded through the local government. When the author and printer reside in different districts, the notice and petition should be forwarded through the local government of the district in which the printer resides.
Works which are unusually beneficial to society may have their copyright time extended for fifteen years after the legal term of thirty years has expired.
For the purpose of securing the copyright, a certificate fixing the time will be given. After this time has expired, every one will have an equal right to print.
When a writer composes a large work, requiring several years for its publication, in parts issued one after the other, he shall receive a copyright for each part at the time when it passes through the press, and the time of the expiration of such copyright shall be reckoned accordingly.
When any one, as successor, wishes to obtain the copyright of a book published by another person, he shall first consult with the holder, and thereupon present a petition bearing the seal of both parties. In case of the first holder’s death, the person who has thus obtained the copyright shall be regarded as the holder.
A person who wishes to print the work of another person, the copyright of which is secured, abbreviating passages, or adding corrections, notes, appendixes, or pictures, must first obtain consent of the holder, after which he must observe the rules already herein laid down.
When an author wishes to republish his own work, of which he holds the copyright, abbreviating, or adding corrections, notes, appendixes, or pictures, he must apply again for a copyright. If he only changes the type, or merely prints the book in another form in more or fewer parts, or reprints it as it was originally, his copyright continues valid. He must, however, give notice and forward copies to the naimusho, as herein directed.
After the death of an author, his successor may print his posthumous works, for which a copyright shall be given when requested.
A copyright may be transferred before its expiration from the holder to the successor, in which case the successor shall make known to the naimusho the facts connected with the transfer.
When any one prints the works of another, he must first gain the author’s consent. The petition for the copyright and the notice to the naimusho shall in this case bear the seal of both the publisher and author.
It is not allowed to plagiarize from the works of another, the copyright of which has been secured. This, however, does not forbid quotation for the purpose of argument or proof.
Whenever it happens that two or more persons simultaneously write the same kind of a book independently, they shall each one receive a copyright. When doubt rests on either of the parties, the case shall be investigated, and thereupon a copyright shall be conferred or withheld.
When one translator has translated a foreign book, and thereafter another retranslates it, and gives proof that he has corrected mistakes, supplied omissions, and improved the style, his proof shall be considered when he applies for a copyright, and said right shall be granted or withheld accordingly.
No difficulty will be encountered in consequence of two books by different authors having the same name, provided the contents and treatment are different. In such cases the name of the author should be written on the title page.
A list of books printed shall be kept in the naimusho, and published from time to time.
After the type for a book has been engraved, three copies of the book struck off shall be deposited in the naimusho. When a copyright is granted, the price of six more copies shall be deposited to defray the expense of granting the license. It is not permitted to sell any copies before these copies have been deposited and this license-fee paid. After the book has been printed, the price of each book should be stamped upon it.
The name and residence of the author should be printed in his book. When these cannot be ascertained, this fact should be noted, and the day, month, and year when first printed. The day, month, and year when the copyright was given should also be noted, and the name and residence of the holder should be given. It is not allowed to give other than the true name. When one has succeeded to a copyright, or bought it, or a part of it, the name of such successor, owner, or partner should be given.
Copyrights may be bought or sold at pleasure. When this is the case, both parties to the transaction should make known the fact to the naimusho under their united signatures.
It is not forbidden to divide a copyright, by gift or sale, to different persons who then may each print the same book. This is called dividing the copy. Both parties to the transaction must give notice to the naimusho under their united seals, as before directed.
If any one does not give notice as directed to the naimusho when he succeeds to or buys in full or shares a copyright, he shall forfeit such right.
When an author changes the title of a book already licensed, or when he adds an introduction or conclusion to a book, copies of which have been deposited in the naimusho, he shall notify the naimusho of the fact and deposit anew copies of the book thus altered. The author who does not give notice or who does not deposit the required number of copies shall forfeit his copyright.
When any one has lost his permit, it will be given to him anew upon application, in which case he must pay the price of three books as a fee for the renewal of the license.
The printers of frivolous discourses, songs, &c, must also observe the foregoing regulations.
Notice should be given every time a colored primer or fashion-plate is printed according to regulation first.

Penalties attached to the violation of the printing regulations.

When any one prints a book without giving notice to the naimusho, or says that he has obtained a copyright when he has not done so, or sells books without first depositing the requisite number of copies in the naimusho, or without paying the license-fee, his type, stock of books printed, and money received from sales shall all be confiscated.
Should any one make type of a different form, or slightly alter the form of the letters or pictures in a book, or add a little, or change the name of the book and publish it, thus hurting the copyright held by another, he shall pay a fine of from 20 yen ($20) to 300 yen, and his type, stock of books on hand, and receipts from sales shall be forfeited and paid to the rightful holder of the copyright.
Any one who sells a book which he knows was printed in violation of the first and second regulations shall pay a fine of from 5 to 100 yen. One who sells a book which he knows was printed in violation of the second regulation shall forfeit his books on hand and receipts from sales, all which shall go to indemnify the holder of the copyright.
Any one who prints a book without the name or residence of the holder of the copyright, or who sells such book, or who changes or falsifies the name or residence, or who knowingly sells such printed book, shall be punished with imprisonment from ten days to six months, and confiscation shall take place according to the first regulation.
Every author of a book who violates the law of slander or breaks any of the press laws from the twelfth and onward, shall be punished as there provided. In this case the author shall be regarded as the principal offender, and the printer as subordinate to him.
Licentious productions and books calculated to pervert good morals, such as trifling discourses, songs, pictures, and anything tending to licentiousness, shall render their authors and publishers liable to punishment by imprisonment from thirty days to one year, or to a fine of from 3 yen to 100 yen.
When a court has received a complaint about a book published contrary to these regulations, it shall immediately distrain the type-plates and all the stock of books on hand, which, after the case has been decided adversely, shall be confiscated by the officer. If the publisher himself controlled the printing by means of movable type, or if he employed a printer who knew he was committing an offense, this printing apparatus shall be forfeited.
One who after publishing is found to have committed an offense, even though he has received a copyright, shall be punished according to these regulations.

Additional regulations.

From the day these regulations go into effect, all previous proclamations respecting printing or publishing shall become null and void.

The authors of books published previously should, within four months from the day when these regulations go into effect, present their petitions for copyrights, according to these rules. Those who fail to do so within the given time shall have no copyright. The regular license-fee shall be paid when a petition is forwarded for a copyright for such previously published books.

With the exception of proclamations, public documents, regulations and transactions of the various departments, everything published by the in, sho, shi, cho, fu, and ken authorities (i. e., legislature, departments, bureaus, courts, city and provincial governments) shall hereafter be reported to the naimusho.

[Page 374]

No. 12.

Proclamation is hereby made that the two following regulations are to be added to the regulations published in proclamation No. 135, of date ninth month of eighth year of Meiji.


Regulation XXIX. After a copyright has been given, when the holder gives notice to the naimusho of sale or of change of name, &c., he should obtain the seal of the provincial government on the back of the document.

XXX. If there is not room for the seal on the back, he should get the document rewritten, in which case he is to pay the price of three books as a fee.