The Acting Secretary of State to Minister Calhoun.
Washington, July 2, 1910.
Sir: I have to inclose herewith for the information of the legation copy of a letter of to-day’s date to Messrs. Ginn & Co., publishers of school and college textbooks, New York City, relating to the present status of copyright protection afforded American publications in China and Japan.
It will be noted that such protection as is accorded in Article XI of the treaty of 1903 between the United States and China is to be given “in the same way and manner and subject to the same conditions upon which it agrees to protect trade-marks”—that is, upon registration by the proper authorities of the United States at such offices as the Chinese Government shall establish for such purpose, on payment of a reasonable fee, after due investigation by the Chinese authorities and in compliance with reasonable regulations.
Such protection, it is also clear, is to be given for 10 years from the date of registration. The protection, however, promised in the article does not appear to be of much value. The article merely provides that books, maps, etc., especially prepared for the use and education of the Chinese people and translations into Chinese of any books are to be protected in the form in which so especially prepared or translations in the original form of publications. Few books, if any, published in the United States are especially prepared for the use and education of the Chinese people, and no others can find protection against copyright infringement in China. Even these few may be abridged or changed in unimportant respects and then be published in China without redress. As for translations, it is quite easy to modify a few sentences and paragraphs without changing the sense or lessening the value of such works, and by so doing produce a printed edition which can not be touched. Even original works in Chinese by American missionaries or others are just as easily deprived of protection. The article, therefore, really affords no protection of value. Nevertheless, Chinese officials have on various occasions shown a willingness to register book titles and issue proclamations for their protection, and such proclamations have the effect of deterring some who would otherwise pirate these publications.
As to the provision for registration no arrangement has yet been approved by the Chinese Government and no regulations for protection have been drawn up.
The department is aware that the Chinese Government in replying to inquiries regarding the copyright regulations state that such regulations must await the adoption of satisfactory trade-mark regulations. The department understands that such trade-mark regulations were adopted in 1903 and were acceptable to the United States, Great Britain, and Japan, but other powers objected, and repeated conferences upon the subject since that date have been without result.
I am, etc.,