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DECEMBER 17, 1830.
Mr. ELLSWORTH, from the Committee on the Judiciary, to which was re
committed the bill (H. R. No. 145) to amend and consolidate the acts respecting copy-rights, made the following
The Committee on the Judiciary, having had under consideration the
laws relating to copy-right, present to the House, for its adoption, the bill accompanying this report.
At the second session of the first Congress, a statute was passed to secure to authors the copy-right of their books, charts, and maps. In 1802, a like statute was passed to secure the copy-right of prints. In both of these statutes there are provisions which are useless and burthensome, and in which there are likewise discrepancies. It has furthermore been claimed, and, it seems to your committee, with propriety, that the law of copy-right ought to extend to musical compositions, as does the English law. It has been the aim of your committee, in preparing the accompanying bill, to bring the two statutes into one, and to make that free from the objections alluded to, but. chiefly to enlarge the period for the enjoyment of copy-right, and thereby to place authors in this country more nearly upon an equality with authors nother countries.
The power of securing the rights of authors, by giving them a copy-right, is. by the Constitution, exclusively vested in Congress; and your committee think that the object contemplated is well worthy of the consideration and legislation of Congress. While, for the most obvious reasons, the United States ought to be foremost among nations in encouraging science and literature, by securing the fruits of intellectual labor, she is, in this thing, very far behind them all, as a reference to their laws will show.
In the United States, by the existing laws, a copy-right is secured to the author, in the first instance, for fourteen years; and if, at the end of that period, he be living, then for fourteen years more; but, if he be not then living, the copy-right is determined, although, by the very event of the death of the author; his family stand in more need of the only means of subsistence ordinarily left to them. In England, the right of an author to the exclusive and perpetual profits of his book was enjoyed, and never questioned, until it was decided in Parliament, by a small vote, in the case of Miller vs. Tay
lor, in the year 1769, and contrary to a decision of the same case in the King's Bench, that the statute of Ann had abridged the common law right, which, it was conceded, had existed, instead of merely guarding and securing it by forfeitures for a limited time, as was obviously intended. But Parliament, feeling the injustice of the statute of Ann, thus construed, afterwards passed a statute, which is now the law of that kingdom, securing to an author a copy-right for twenty-eight years, and, if he be living at the end of that period, for his life. In France, before 1826, a copy-right was secured to the author for life, to his widow for her life, and then to his children for twenty-six years. In 1826, the King appointed a numerous board of commissioners to revise the law of literary property. They reported a bill extending the period of enjoyment to fifty years after the death of the author, which is now the law of France In Russia, a copy-right is secured for life, and twenty years afterwards. In Germany, Norway, and Sweden, the right is held to be perpetual.
It is believed that this comparison shows that the United States are far behind the States of Europe in securing the fruits of intellectual labor, and in encouraging men of letters.
Your committee believe that the just claims of authors require from our legislation a protection not less than what is proposed in the bill reported. Upon the first principles of proprietorship in property, an author has an exclusive and perpetual right, in preference to any other, to the fruits of his labor. Though the nature of literary property is peculiar, it is not the less real and valuable. If labor and effort in producing what before was not possessed or known will give title, then the literary man has title, perfect and absolute, and should have his reward: he writes and he labors as assiduously as does the mechanic or husbandman. The scholar who secludes himself, and wastes his life, and often his property, to enlighten the world, has the best right to the profits of those labors: the planter, the mechanic, the professional man, cannot prefer a better title to what is admitted to be his own. Nor is there any doubt what the interest and honor of the country demand on this subject. We are justly proud of the knowledge and virtue of our fellow-citizens. Shall we not encourage the means of that knowledge, and enlighten that virtue, so necessary to the security and judicious exercise of civil and political rights? We ought to present every reasonable inducement to influerce men to consecrate their talents to the advancement of science. It cannot be for the interest or honor of our country that intellectual labor should be depreciated, and a life devoted to research and laborious study terminate in disappointment aad poverty.
Your committee do not perceive any reason for denying to authors the protection of the law, to the extent proposed. There is no serious danger of a monopoly. The question is, whether the author or the bookseller. shall reap the reward. It is for the interest of the author to supply the market upon such terms as will ensure the greatest sale; and he will always do this
This bill secures to the author a copy-right for twenty-eight years in the first instance, with a right of renewal for fourteen more, if, at the end of the first period, the author be living, or shall leave a family. It is believed that the provisions of the bill are not too liberal, and that Congress ought not to do less than is proposed. Even this is less than is done in any one of the European States referred to,
OFFICERS OF THE REVOLUTIONARY ARMY
WHO SERVED PRIOR TO MARCH, 1780.
DECEMBER 17, 1830.
Read, and referred to a select committee, consisting of Messrs. Verplanck, Forward;
Deberry, Campbell, Hawkins, Cooper, and Everett.
DECEMBER 21, 1830.
To the Congress of the United States of America: The memorial of the subscribers, in behalf of themselves and others, offi. cers and soldiers of the revolutionary army who served prior to the first day of March, 1780, and who have received no gratuity or compensation from the United States, or from their respective States, either in land of
money, RESPECTFULLY REPRESENTS:
That the claims of the officers and soldiers who served in the revolua tionary army from 1780 to the end of the war are founded on two positions:
Ist. That a debt of gratitude is due to those who achieved our inde pendence:
2d. That Congress have not fulfilled their bargain with those officers and soldiers; that is to say, that, upon fair and strict calculation, there is something due to them by contract.
Strong as the claims of those officers and soldiers are acknowledged to be, there are circumstances which your memorialists beg leave to recal to the minds of your honorable body, which give to their application, as they humbly believe, a still stronger title to the public consideration.
When the war commenced, Congress had not a dollar in their treasury, nor the means of commanding one. Those who engaged at that time could not have been influenced, in the slightest degree, by motives of interest. They suffered every species of privation, and thousands perished for want of necessaries. No officer could have kept up a decent appearance without
the aid of his private resources: officers commanding regiments must have spent fortunes. It was by these men, however, that the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill were won-that Ticonderoga, St. John's, Montreal, and the rest of Canada down to Quebec, were taken—that the British were expelled from Boston—that the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Bennington, and Saratoga, were gained- Burgoyne and his army captured the British and tories, at King's Mountain, taken by Shelby and his volunteers, and all the British forts and garrisons in the western country, taken by Clark and his associates. But you have read what is called the history of the RevoJution, and have heard of these and other events. The men who achieved them did it without pay and without clothing, and often, very often, without food.
We knew that the United States had no means of paying, or feeding, or clothing us; and we knew that, if our efforts should fail of success, our reward would be poverty and ignominious death, if the vengeance of tyrants could stamp with ignominy the virtuous efforts of freemen. We were not appalled by this perspective; nay, we were stimulated to more patient endurance of privations, and to more desperate exertions.
Before 1780, these and similar events, and more, the unrelenting perseverance manifested by our citizens under the severest trials, gave us reputation in Europe; reputation produced sympathy, and gained us credit and allies. The French fleet and army came to our relief: we were enabled to make loans in Europe; and, in March 1780, when the army was re-organized, it felt secure of pay, clothing, and necessaries, and entitled to the rights of war. The army formed at that period was as much a mercenary army asthat of any kingdom in Europe. They had made terms with their employers to their satisfaction: these terms ought to be strictly fulfilled. But the heat and burthen of the day was past; the Revolution was accomplished; patriotism was no longer invoked to fill our ranks.
Certain engagements were also made by Congress to the officers and sol. diers who served before 1780: they were offered pay and rations. Let these deficiencies be made up; and, if a debt of gratitude be due to any description of the officers of the revolutionary army, it is eminently due to that portion of which your memorialists make a part. We have chosen a time when the overflowing treasury of the United States has become an object of solicitude and alarm, lest this superabundance of national wealth might tend to corrupt the morals of our rulers, and endanger the peace of the country and the permanency of the Union, in the struggle for distribution.
A very small pittance of this surplus would enable us to terminate the short residue of our existence in comfort and repose.
The Congress, under the old confederation, thought it an act of common justice to settle and discharge the debts duc from the United States to individuals, for supplies and for services, other than military, not by the nominal amount in their paper currency, but by a scale of depreciation, irr which it was professed to charge payments thus made according to the actual specie value of the paper at the time of payment. This had a semblance of justice; but, in point of fact, the paper currency was, in that scale, rated at something more than its actual value; yet even this meagre justice was not granted to the officers and soldiers of the army, although it must. be allowed that they were creditors of the highest grade.
We therefore respectfully ask that a fair estimate may be made of the sums due to us for pay and rations, crediting to the United States the sums paid in paper curreney, at the actuai specie value at the time of payment; and that the balance thus found due may be paid to us, with interest, or that compensation may be made to us for that balance in such other way as to your wisdom may seem more expedient, or that we may receive such other remuneration for our services, privations, and losses, as to the justice and liberality of your honorable body may seem equitable.
CARY DUNN, Jun.
PETITIONS OF WIDOWS OF OFFICERS OF THE REVOLUTIONARY ARMY. To the Honorable the Senate and the Honorable the House of Representatives of the United States of Ameriea, in Congress assembled:
The memorial of the subscribers, in behalf of themselves and others, surviy
ing widows of certain officers of the army of the Revolution,
MOST RESPECTFULLY SHOWETII:
That, while your memorialists have received the highest gratification from the late act of Congress for the relief of certain surviving officers of the army of the Revolution, they have at the same time perceived, with great sensibility, that its provisions are in no wise extended to the surviving widows of those officers who would have been entitled to its benefits if they had been living at the time of its passage; for although your memorialists did not, in the field, partake of the dangers and hardships and privations of their husbands, yet it was their lot to endure constantly the far more exquisite pains which the heart of woman feels when he to whom she is connected by the nearest and most tender ties is engaged in battle, and, when not in battle, exposed to sufferings in the extreme.
While a more early death has deprived your memorialists of their partnerst in life, their griefs are highly aggravated by experiencing those wants from which in a measure they would have been relieved, if those to whom they had to look for protection and support had lived to partake of the benefit of the late law.
Without recalling the arguments which were used on the former occasion in behalf of the surviving officers, these surviving widows indulge the hope that they will not be overlooked, but that the same honorable feelings, and the same good motives, will so far prevail in their behalf under the bereavements of their husbands, and of the aid they might have been able to afford, as to procure for your memorialists a participation in that remuneration which was awaiting those surviving officers, and had been awarded to your memorialists" husbands, if alive, for their services and losses in the war which eventuated in that emancipation, freedom, and sovereignty, of which the fruits are now so abundantly enjoyed by a grateful and magnanimous people.
Your meinorialists do therefore, in the most respectful manner, solicit that some provision may be made for them, such as to Congress, in its wisdom,