The Secretary of State to Chargé Wilson .

No. 345.]

Sir: Referring to your dispatch No. 545, of the 12th ultimo, reporting the status of the negotiations for a copyright convention between the United States and Japan, I inclose herewith for your information a copy of a letter from the Librarian of Congress expressing his views on the subject.

I am, sir, etc.,

John Hay.

The Librarian of Congress to the Secretary of State .


Sir: On April 5 I received from the Assistant Secretary a communication inclosing copies of memoranda from the legation to Japan, “No. 545, March 12, 1901, etc.” The Assistant Secretary requested an expression of my “views on the subject.”

The probable advantage to the American author and publisher of a copyright convention with Japan, could such a convention be secured, fully justifies the efforts of the legation in its behalf. The need of protection for the American author and publisher has become more obvious, I am informed, from the [Page 974] fact that certain American text-books introduced at considerable cost into Japan, have been there reprinted in facsimile. The reprints being offered at a much lower price than the American editions, have, in certain instances, driven these out of the market. These facts were, I believe, set before the State Department in a communication from the American Publishers’ Copyright League in October last.

The arguments for such an arrangement appear to be substantially such as the legation has set forth in its representations to the Japanese Government: in particular the precedents already established. There is as little likelihood of the piracy of Japanese texts in Great Britain, France, or Germany as there is in the United States, yet Japan has placed itself in reciprocity with those countries by accepting the obligations of the convention of Berne.

In view of the business interests involved, as well as in the furtherance of international ethics in matters of literary property, it is earnestly to be hoped that the legation will succeed in its efforts to secure a modification of the position of the Japanese Government which will admit of the application of the law of 1891 to our relations with Japan.

Very respectfully,

Herbert Putnam,
Librarian of Congress.