File No. 811.54441/11.
The Secretary of State to the President.
Washington, December 30, 1914.
To the President:
I have the honor to invite your attention to the unsatisfactory state of the copyright relations between the United States and Great Britain which have existed since January 1, 1912, on which date the British Consolidated Copyright Act of December 16, 1911, became effective, and to enclose herewith for your information on the subject copies of two memoranda1 of the Register of Copyrights, dated December 9, 1912, and January 6, 1914, respectively, both of which have been approved by the Librarian of Congress, in which the matter is dealt with at some length.[Page 424]
It will be noted from these memoranda that on the one hand American citizens not resident in British Dominions, who are authors of unpublished works, i. e., dramas, musical compositions, lectures and other productions for oral delivery and original works of art, paintings and sculpture, can not now obtain for their works in Great Britain the protection afforded to British subjects by the British Copyright Act now in force and that as a consequence they also lose protection for such works throughout the countries of the International Copyright Union, as well as the right to compel the payment of royalty for the use in Great Britain of unpublished musical works for reproduction by mechanical musical contrivances.
On the other hand it appears that British authors of musical works cannot take advantage in the United States of the provisions of Section I (e) of the Copyright Act approved March 4, 1909, to acquire copyright controlling the parts of instruments serving to reproduce mechanically their musical compositions. It will also be noted that the suggestion was made by the Register of Copyrights that the matter might be adjusted to the mutual benefit of both countries by an agreement between them whereby the British Government, under the provisions of Section 29 of the British Copyright Act of July 1, 1912, would issue an Order in Council, as authorized thereby, directing that the provisions of the Act shall apply, with regard to the unpublished works of American authors,
- to literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic work, or any class thereof, the authors whereof were at the time of the making of the work citizens of the United States, in like manner as if the authors were British subjects; and
- in respect of residence in the United States, in like manner as if such residence were residence in the parts of His Majesty’s dominions to which this Act extends;
in exchange for which reciprocal protection of their musical works in the United States would be extended to British subjects by the issuance, under the provisions of Section 8 (b) of the Copyright Act of March 4, 1909, of a Presidential Proclamation extending to the subjects of Great Britain the protection afforded by this Act.
This Department has for some time been in correspondence with the British Government on the subject and has received from the American Ambassador at London a despatch1 dated November 27 last reporting that the British Government has expressed its willingness to issue such an Order in Council as is mentioned above upon receipt of assurances that a Presidential Proclamation extending to British subjects the protection in the United States provided for by Section I (e) of the Act of March 4, 1909, would be issued by this Government. A copy of the proposed British Order in Council having been forwarded with the Ambassador’s despatch, it was, on December 18, forwarded to the Librarian of Congress for his consideration and an expression of his views as to its sufficiency and as to whether in consequence of its proposed issuance this Department would be justified in recommending the issuance of such a Presidential Proclamation as that just referred to. I have the honor to enclose for your information a copy of the Librarian’s reply1 and, in conformity with the recommendations therein made, [Page 425] to enclose also for your signature, should you approve thereof, a proposed Proclamation2 to be issued by you under the provisions of Section 8 (b) of the Copyright Act approved March 4, 1909, extending to British subjects the protection afforded by Section I (e) of that Act, including copyright controlling the parts of instruments serving to reproduce mechanically a musical work.
The British Government has expressed a wish that the proposed Order in Council and Proclamation may take effect as of date of January 1, 1915.