Page:United States Reports, Volume 209.djvu/43

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17
WHITE-SMITH MUSIC CO. v. APOLLO CO.
209 U.S.
 
Opinion of the Court.

What is meant by a copy? We have already referred to the common understanding of it as a reproduction or duplication of a thing. A definition was given by Bailey, J., in West v. Francis, 5 B. & A. 743, quoted with approval in Boosey v. Whight, supra. He said: “A copy is that which comes so near to the original as to give to every person seeing it the idea created by the original.”

Various definitions have been given by the experts called in the case. The one which most commends itself to our judgment is perhaps as clear as can be made, and defines a copy of a musical composition to be “a written or printed record of it in intelligible notation.” It may be true that in a broad sense a mechanical instrument which reproduces a tune copies it; but this is a strained and artificial meaning. When the combination of musical sounds is reproduced to the ear it is the original tune as conceived by the author which is heard. These musical tones are not a copy which appeals to the eye. In no sense can musical sounds which reach us through the sense of hearing be said to be copies as that term is generally understood, and as we believe it was intended to be understood in the statutes under consideration. A musical composition is an intellectual creation which first exists in the mind of the composer; he may play it for the first time upon an instrument. It is not susceptible of being copied until it has been put in a form which others can see and read. The statute has not provided for the protection of the intellectual conception apart from the thing produced, however meritorious such conception may be, but has provided for the making and filing of a tangible thing, against the publication and duplication of which it is the purpose of the statute to protect the composer.

Also it may be noted in this connection that if the broad construction of publishing and copying contended for by the appellants is to be given to this statute it would seem equally applicable to the cylinder of a music box, with its mechanical arrangement for the reproduction of melodious sounds, or the record of the graphophone, or to the pipe organ operated by