Page:United States Reports, Volume 209.djvu/41

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209 U.S.
Opinion of the Court.

known to Congress. After the Berne convention the act of March 3, 1891, was passed. Section 13 of that act provides (3 U.S. Comp. Stat. 3417):

Sec. 13. That this act shall only apply to a citizen or subject of a foreign state or nation when such foreign state or nation permits to citizens of the United States of America the benefits of copyright on substantially the same basis as to its own citizens; and when such foreign state or nation is a party to an international agreement which provides for reciprocity in the granting of copyright, by the terms of which agreement the United States of America may, at its pleasure, become a party to such agreement. The existence of either of the conditions aforesaid shall be determined by the President of the United States by proclamation made from time to time as the purposes of this act may require.”

By proclamation of the President July 1, 1891, the benefit of the act was given to the citizens of Belgium, France, British possessions and Sweden, which countries permitted the citizens of the United States to have the benefit of copyright on the same basis as the citizens of those countries. On April 30, 1892, the German Empire was included. On October 31, 1892, a similar proclamation was made as to Italy. These countries were all parties to the Berne convention.

It could not have been the intention of Congress to give to foreign citizens and composers advantages in our country which according to that convention were to be denied to our citizens abroad.

In the last analysis this case turns upon the construction of a statute, for it is perfectly well settled that the protection given to copyrights in this country is wholly statutory. Wheaton v. Peters, 8 Pet. 590; Banks v. Manchester, 128 U.S. 244, 253; Thompson v. Hubbard, 131 U.S. 123, 151; American Tobacco Company v. Werckmeister, 207 U.S. 284.

Musical compositions have been the subject of copyright protection since the statute of February 3, 1831, c., 4 Stat. 436, and laws have been passed including them since that time.