Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/355

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341
PROGRESS OF COPYRIGHT LAW.

report contains matters auxiliary to the "opinion," the preparation of which involves much literary labor and skill; such as a "syllabus" of the case, or brief statement of the points of law decided; a narrative of the facts involved in the trial; a condensed statement of the arguments; and, perhaps, a foot-note collating other decisions germane to the subject. A majority of existing law reports have been compiled by the reporters in the expectation of taking out a copyright and realizing a profit upon sales. The practice of paying a reporter a salary, now very common, is of recent introduction. Lately complaint was made on behalf of an official law-reporter who had no distinct salary, but compiled the reports relying on the copyright as his compensation, that a rival publishing firm were issuing a condensed edition. The publishers argued that the reporter's work was official, and not a subject of copyright. The judge said he thought an officer enjoying a salary for his work probably ought not to claim a copyright, but one who worked for the copyright as his compensation ought to be sustained in it. The publishers also showed that they had. instructed their editors to draft new head-notes and narratives of facts. The judge said he could scarcely see how new editors could in fact compile these parts anew unless they consulted the original records. It was not shown that they had done this; moreover, the judge's comparison of the two books led him to think that the editors had in fact used the reporter's work to a considerable extent. The decision was in favor of the reporter's claim. It is noteworthy that a decision rendered half a dozen years ago, though published recently, declared that a reporter could not claim copyright in head-notes furnished to him by the judges as part of their official duty.

Upon the death of Lord Beaconsfield, the London "Times" published an elaborate memoir. Some one reprinted it in a penny pamphlet. Of this the proprietor of the "Times" complained; but the publisher of the pamphlet said that he had the right to issue it because the "Times" was not copyrighted. Now, the copyright laws do not mention newspapers by that name; they allow copyrighting "books"; when newspapers are copyrighted, it is done upon the idea that the term "book," liberally understood, includes a newspaper. For the proprietor of the "Times" it was argued that a newspaper like the "Times" is not a proper subject of copyright; and that, there being no copyright law available for articles in newspapers, the publisher has "a common-law right"—a natural property, independent of statute—by virtue of which he can forbid any one else from reprinting them. There is said to be a former English decision to this effect. But the judge decided, in respect to the Beaconsfield memoir, that the "Times" newspaper can be copyrighted, and that it should have been, in order to sustain the claim made. He sanctioned the little pamphlet.

Many of our readers know the two books "Monitor Post-Office,