Mr. Roustan to Mr. Bayard.
Washington, November 29, 1886. (Received Nov. 30.)
Mr. Secretary of State: The conference which met at Berne in 1884 and 1885, with a view to the formation of an international union for the protection of literary and artistic works, terminated its labors by the signing of a convention, to which ten states adhered.
Mr. Winchester, the representative of the United States, who took part in the last conference, as well as in the two preceding ones, was not authorized to affix his signature to the final instrument. He made, however, important declarations before the conference concerning the intention of the Federal Government to enter the union which has just been formed. He expressly recognized the principles that underlie the protection of intellectual property, remarking, however, that the action of Congress is, by the Constitution, required in this matter, and that consequently the executive branch of the Government is prevented by existing laws from acceding to the new convention.
You are aware, Mr. Secretary of State, that American authors who by their numbers and talents have gained a high rank in the intellectual world receive the fullest protection in foreign countries, especially in France. I may add that, in another point of view, they could but be the gainers by the establishment of a regime that would compel publishers to recognize in the United States the rights of foreign authors. It is now an admitted fact that, so far from impairing the literary resources of a country, protection granted to foreign authors, by preventing literary piracy and by placing obstacles in the way of the translation of their works, diminishes the competition of foreign productions, and accelerates the progress of the national literary and artistic movement.
In view of these considerations of equity and interest, and feeling confidence in the assurances given to the conference by Mr. Winchester, my Government has deemed itself authorized to make a request of the Federal Government.
I am, therefore, instructed, Mr. Secretary of State, now that Congress is about to resume its labors, to solicit, in behalf of literary property in this country, the powerful support of the influence of the Chief Magistrate of the nation, requesting him to be pleased, in his annual message, to advocate the accession of the United States to the union in question.
I should be very grateful to you if you would be pleased to transmit this request to its high destination.
Accept, Mr. Secretary, etc.,