Section 4952 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, in force December 1, 1873, as amended by the act of June 18, 1874, as amended by the act of March 3, 1891, provides that the author, inventor, designer, or proprietor of any book, map, chart, dramatic or musical composition, engraving, cut, print, or photograph or negative thereof, or of a painting, drawing, chromo, statuary, and of models or designs intended to be perfected as works of the fine arts, and the executors, administrators, or assigns of any such person, shall, upon complying with the provisions of this chapter, have the sole liberty of printing, reprinting, publishing, completing, copying, executing, finishing, and vending the same; and, in the case of a dramatic composition, of publicly performing or representing it, or causing it to be performed or represented by others. And authors or their assigns shall have exclusive right to dramatize or translate any of their works for which copyright shall have been obtained under the laws of the United States.
A printed copy of the title of the book, map, chart, dramatic or musical composition, engraving, cut, print, photograph, or chromo, or a description of the painting, drawing, statue, statuary, or model or design, for a work of the fine arts, for which copyright is desired, must be delivered to the Librarian of Congress, or deposited in the mail, within the United States, prepaid, addressed "Librarian of Congress, Washington, D. C." This must be done on or before day of publication in this or any foreign country.
The printed title required may be a copy of the title-page of such publications as have title-pages. In other cases, the title must be printed expressly for copyright entry, with name of claimant of copyright. The style of type is immaterial, and the print of a typewriter will be accepted. But a separate title is required for each entry. The title of a periodical must include the date and number; and each number of a periodical requires a separate entry of copyright. Blank forms of application are furnished.
The legal fee for recording each copyright claim is 50 cents, and for a copy of this record (or certificate of copyright) under seal of the office an additional fee of 50 cents is required, making $1 or $1.50, if certificate is wanted, which will be mailed as soon as reached in the records. No money is to be placed in any package of books, music, or other publications. A money order or express order avoids all risk. In the case of publications which are the production of persons not citizens or residents of the United States, but who are citizens or subjects of any country with which the United States has copyright agreement, the fee for recording title is $1, and 50 cents additional for a copy of the record. Certificates covering more than one entry in one certificate are not issued. Express orders, money orders, and currency only taken for fees. No postage stamps received.
No later than the day of publication in this country or abroad, two complete copies of the best edition of each book or other article must be delivered at the office of the Librarian of Congress, or deposited in the mail within the United States, addressed "Librarian of Congress, Washington, D. C," to perfect the copyright.
The freight or postage must be prepaid, or the publications inclosed in parcels covered by printed penalty-labels, furnished by the Librarian, in which case they will come free by mail (not express), without limit of weight, according to rulings of the Postoffice Department. Books must be printed from type set in the United States or plates made therefrom; photographs from negatives made in the United States; chromos and lithographs from drawings on stone or transfers therefrom made in the United States. In the case of paintings, drawings, statuary, or models or designs for works of art, a photograph of the article is to be sent in lieu of the two copies. Without the deposit of copies required the copyright is void, and a penalty of $25 is incurred. No copy is required to be deposited elsewhere.
The law requires one copy of each new edition wherein any substantial changes are made to be deposited with the Librarian of Congress.
No person shall maintain an action for the infringement of a copyright unless notice is given by inserting in every copy published, on the title-page or the page folowing, if it be a book; or if a map, chart, musical composition, print, cut, engraving, photograph, painting, drawing, chromo, statue, statuary, or model or design intended to be perfected as a work of the fine arts, by inscribing upon some visible portion thereof, or on the substance on which the same is mounted, the following words, viz.: "Entered according to act of Congress, in the year - , by- , in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington," or at the option of the persons entering the copyright, the words: "Copyright, 19-, by-."
The law imposes a penalty of $100 upon any person who has not obtained copyright who shall insert the notice, "Entered according to act of Congress," or "Copyright," etc., or words of the same import, in or upon any book or other article, whether such article be subject to copyright or not.
The copyright law secures to authors and their assigns the exclusive right to translate or to dramatize any of their works; no notice is required to enforce this right.
The original term of copyright runs for twenty-eight years. Within six months before the end of that time, the author or designer, or his widow or children, may secure a renewal for the further term of fourteen years, making forty-two in all.
Application for renewal must be accompanied by printed title and fee; and be explicit statement of ownership, in the case of the author, or of relationship, in the case of his widow or children, and must state definitely the date and place of entry of the original copyright. Within two months from date of renewal the record thereof must be advertised in an American newspaper for four weeks.
The time of publication is not limited by any law or regulation, but the courts have held that it should take place "within a reasonable time." Registration of title may be secured for a projected as well as for a completed work. But the law provides for no caveat or notice of interferenceonly for actual entry of title.
Copyrights are assignable by any instrument of writing. Such assignment is to be recorded in the office of the Librarian of Congress within sixty days from execution, "in default of which it shall be void as against any subsequent purchaser or mortgagee for a valuable consideration, without notice." The fee for this record and certificate is $1 and for a certified copy of any record of assignment $1. A copy of the record (or duplicate certificate) of any copyright entry will be furnished, under seal of the office, at the rate of 50 cents each.
Infringement is a very plain matter when the copyrighted work is simply reproduced. It becomes a complicated and difficult question when only extracts or quotations are made, or when resort is had to a book to make the public acquainted with its contents or to criticise its style or the substance of its thought. It has long been established that the identity of a literary work consists in its ideas and its language. The law does not protect an author against the use of his thoughts in a substantially different form. Unauthorized translation or dramatization of a copyrighted work is no infringement, nor is a true abridgement. An abridgement consists in a condensation of the author's language, and is substantially a different work. The rights of translation or dramatization may be, however, reserved by the author if he so desires.
In a compilation there is the act of taking the very words of the author, or with such slight changes as to show servile imitation, while abridgment, as before stated, consists in condensation and consequent rearrangement. The law at most tolerates the condensation and does not permit the copying of the author's words to such an extent as to do him substantial injury. Compilation is to some extent permitted in dictionaries, gazetteers, encyclopedias, guide-books, etc., where the main design and execution of the work are novel. In works of this class the sources from which information is drawn are the same and the results must be very similar. Novelty and improvement in them in general consists in abridgment, changes in arrangement, more modern information, the correction of errors, etc.
When a copyright is violated the regular remedies are an action for damages or an injunction from a court of equity preventing the continuance of the acts of infringement. As incidental to this relief, the court may direct an account to be taken of the profits realized by the infringer. Where an infringement consists in making use of part of a copyrighted work in connection with other matter, the injunction will be so granted as to prevent the publication of that portion of the infringer's book which is open to objection, without reference to the fact that the order of the court may make the book, thus shorn of a portion of its contests, valueless. Severe penalties and forfeitures are also imposed by statute law upon persons who knowingly violate the provisions of the copyright acts.