Page:Copyright, Its History And Its Law (1912).djvu/142

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110
COPYRIGHT

is not a citizen of a country with which the United States has a copyright convention, must therefore be domiciled here, it would seem, at the time of first publication, in whatever country that may be.

Non-quali-
fied authors
cannot
transfer
It has twice been decided, both prior to and since the "international copyright amendment" of 1891, that a foreign author not qualified to secure a copyright cannot indirectly obtain one by assignment to an American or other proprietor. In 1890 J. M. Barrie assigned to J. W. Lovell, and he to the U.S. Book Company, his American rights in "The little minister," and after the act of 1891 the latter endeavored to restrain a dramatization of the story. Judge Jenkins held with the lower court that the foreign author could transfer only, prior to the act, the right to publish from advance sheets and not the right to copyright. In the case of Bong v. Campbell Art Co., in which it was sought to protect under the act of 1891 a work by a Peruvian painter, Hernandez, whose country had no international relations with the United States, through transfer to a German proprietor, whose country had reciprocal relations, it was held in 1909 by the U. S. Supreme Court, through Justice McKenna, that an author who is a citizen of a country with which the United States has no copyright relations cannot indirectly obtain American copyright by making a citizen of a country with which the United States has copyright relations the proprietor of his work. A proprietor has been construed by the courts to mean merely an assignee of a qualified author. It is evident, therefore, despite the ambiguous phrasing of the statute, that an assignee proprietor, though domiciled in the United States at the time of first publication of a work, could not obtain copyright unless the author were so domiciled, for the contrary ruling would nullify the general purport of