Chargé Wilson to the Secretary of State.

No. 541.]

Sir: Instruction No. 335, dated December 31, 1900, with copies of correspondence from publishers, of the President’s proclamations, and of the department’s circular of July 25, 1899, on the subject of copyright, reached here on the 7th instant.

I immediately investigated the subject, with a view to securing this Government’s consent to making a conventional copyright agreement with the United States according to reciprocal national treatment.

Article XXVIII of the copyright law of Japan, quoted in Mr. Buck’s No. 336, of July 20, 1899,a contains the only obstacle to an immediate arrangement by the method of the President’s issuing a proclamation extending the protection of our copyright law to the citizens or subjects of any country the laws of which afford to Americans substantially national treatment in copyright. But Article XXVIII makes the enjoyment of national treatment by foreigners whose copyright privileges are not specially determined by treaty conditional upon first publication of their work in Japan, their treatment thus differing from national treatment.

By article 3 of the protocol of 1894 with Great Britain and by section 4 of the protocol of April 4, 1896, with Germany, the Japanese Government agreed to join the Berne convention covering copyright before consular jurisdiction should cease.

Then, too, Article XI of the Japan-Switzerland treaty secures, irrespective of the Berne convention, reciprocal national treatment in copyright. So that favored nation includes national treatment.

Indicated above is the only mention of copyright which occurs in Japan’s treaties and conventions now in force.

On the 15th instant, in presenting the matter to the minister for foreign affairs, I remarked that the United States Government had taken a leading part in facilitating and hastening treaty revision, and that their consequent willingness to sign their treaty so early showed clearly their confident expectation that they would receive at least as favorable treatment as any other nation; that the spirit of Article XIV, and, indeed, of the whole treaty, justified such an expectation.

I mentioned that we had reciprocal agreements with most countries, and intimated that, since Japan had, by the Berne convention as well as by the Swiss treaty, afforded copyright protection to the citizens or subjects of practically all the treaty powers, it was impossible [Page 971] to anticipate a refusal to afford to citizens of the United States, whose Government offered a corresponding return, equally favorable treatment.

Mr. Kato desired to look at the laws and treaties, after which he would be prepared within a few days for further discussion of the subject. He said that he would do all in his power to meet the views of the Government of the United States.

For the foregoing reasons I regard the present as an especially opportune time for attempting to secure the desired convention—an opinion I ventured to indicate in the telegram confirmed above.

I have, etc.,

Huntington Wilson.
  1. Not printed.