Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/50

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

mission, by which the existing law of copyright would be repealed and the system of royalty established in its place, under which a publisher of the first edition of a new work would have what we may call a close time of a year, and after that it would be open to any other publisher, paying a fixed royalty to the author, to bring out new editions of that work. Have you turned your attention to the probable operation of a scheme of that sort, on the works, for instance, that you yourself have published?

A. I have given it some attention since the subject was first mentioned to me by a member of this commission, and I have listened to the evidence given in this room since I came into it. In that evidence I have heard over and over again beliefs expressed of what would occur if the royalty scheme were to become law. These beliefs are to be pitted against what we now know as certainties; and taking everything into account, I prefer the certainty now known to me to the beliefs expressed by the witness who preceded me. It would be in my opinion a gross injustice, and might open a channel to interference of a still more serious and sweeping character, if the rights of an author over his hard-earned intellectual property were interfered with in the manner I have heard indicated here.

Q. Now under the present law has it been your custom to part with your copyright in the first instance, or only for a limited period?

A. The first work that I ever published was given to an eminent publisher; and I was averse to making any arrangement whatever with him. In those days I thought it in a measure ungentlemanly to bargain or haggle with a publisher; and I left it to him to do what he pleased with the volume. Subsequently, the Messrs. Longman, and particularly Mr. William Longman, pressed me more than once to publish a volume of lectures, and about 1862 I agreed to do so. There was at that time a subject of great and growing importance, regarding which the English public were entirely uninformed, though the public intelligence was raised, I thought, to a sufficient level to profit by a clear exposition. With very hard labor I accomplished a volume on this subject. I felt myself free (and this is the liberty that I should very much object to see limited in any way) to say to Mr. Longman that I should regard him as a business-man; that publishers were, to my knowledge, very competent to take care of themselves, and that I was determined, if he published a volume of mine, also to take care of myself and meet him on business-terms. It was his wish that I should do so, and we then and there entered into an agreement for a single edition of the work. That has been my practice with Messrs. Longman up to the present hour, I sell my books to them edition by edition, always retaining the right to dispose as I please of the subsequent editions of each work. The expenses of each edition—of printing, paper, and advertisements—are added up, the book is priced by mutual agreement, the profits are ascertained, and on the day of publication