Page:United States Reports, Volume 209.djvu/38

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209 U.S.
Opinion of the Court.

the uniform holdings have been that it is not intended to include them in the statutory protection given. While it may be that the decisions have not been of that binding character that would enable the appellee to claim the protection of the doctrine of stare decisis to the extent of precluding further consideration of the question, it must be admitted that the decisions, so far as brought to our attention in the full discussion had at the bar and upon the briefs, have been uniformly to the effect that these perforated rolls operated in connection with mechanical devices for the production of music are not within the copyright act. It was so held in Kennedy v. McTammany, 33 Fed. Rep. 584. The decision was written by Judge Colt in the First Circuit; the case was subsequently brought to this court, where it was dlmnissed for failure to print the record. 145 U.S. 643. In that case the learned judge said:

“I cannot convince myself that these perforated sheets of paper are copies of sheet music within the meaning of the copyright law. They are not made to be addressed to the eye as sheet music, but they form a part of a machine. They are not designed to be used for such purposes as sheet music, nor do they in any sense occupy the same field as sheet music. They are a mechanical invention made for the sole purpose of performing tunes mechanically upon a musical instrument.”

Again the matter was given careful consideration in the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia in an opinion by Justice Shepard (Stearn v. Rosey, 17 App. D. C. 562), in which that learned justice, speaking for the court, said:

“We cannot regard the reproduction, through the agency of a phonograph, of the sounds of musical instruments playing the music composed and published by the complainants, as the copy or publication of the same within the meaning of the act. The ordinary signification of the words ‘copying,’ ‘publishing,’ etc., cannot be stretched to include it.

“It is not pretended that the marking upon waxed cylinders can be made out by the eye or that they can be utilized in any other way than as parts of the mechanism of the phonograph.