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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 7 Apr 2008 11:43:03 -0700
text/plain (162 lines)
Thanks, David, for your advice.  I looked into Google books, just in case
the Nimmer book was there.  One thing I learned was that there were 10
volumes of Nimmer on copyright!  Yikes.

Then I googled History of Copyright and had one wonder somewhat clarified.
Copyright was not originally to protect authors, but those who printed
Interesting.  Apparently, here in the US we've tried to protect authors.

I came upon this paragraph which clarified that registering in District
Couts WAS
the copyright method up to 1870.  A revelatio:  Thanks to

"1870: Revision of Copyright Act

The administration of copyright registrations moved from the individual
district courts to the Library of Congress Copyright Office. The term of
protection was not extended in this revision.'
So the quote I sent you which Bonner put at the bottom of the Jesse Grant
WAS a copyright notice, but for the publisher, not the author it seems:

"*Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1868, by ROBERT BONNER.
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New

Thank you for guiding me further into this copyright history.

Ariianne Laidlaw
On Mon, Apr 7, 2008 at 6:59 AM, David Davis <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Hi. Copyright rules from that period are outside of my expertise. (And
> that of most people's, even in copyrightland.  ;-) )
> The big book of US copyright, which does cover some of this historical
> stuff, is by Melville & David Nimmer- but you may have to hunt around
> for it in a law school library.
> My understanding is that _articles_ weren't usually thought of as under
> copyright back in those days. (MT rewrote his materials from the form
> they had appeared in journals for book publication, yes?) Today we would
> call them something more like "a work made for hire." I.e., I write it,
> you pay me, and you publish it in the newspaper/journal. End of
> transaction.
> If that guess is close to right, then Daddy Grant or Bonner or somebody
> _may_ have been trying to preserve what they hoped would turn into book
> rights on their text.
> ________________________________
> From: Arianne [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Saturday, April 05, 2008 2:13 AM
> To: David Davis; Mark Twain Forum
> Subject: Re: FW: Copyright question
> Many thanks, David.  Does anyone have an opinion (or knowledge!) whether
> there would
> be any consequences if someone didn't reespect this primitive version of
> the copyright?
> What could Bonner have been trying to protect?  Reproduction of the
> article?
> Dana co-authored a biography of Grant which drew from the articles for
> information about
> Grant's youth, apparently the only source available.
> Wondering,
> Arianne.
> On Fri, Apr 4, 2008 at 2:43 PM, David Davis <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
> Hi. I did ask around, and it appears that, for that early date (the
> Copyright Office was not taking registrations yet) an author could,  in
> effect, "timestamp" there work at a courthouse. It sounds like that is
> what is happening there. Essentially, "Entered in the Clerk's Office"
> was that era's equivalent of copyright registration.
> Does that help?
> On Wed, Apr 2, 2008 at 2:08 PM, David Davis <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
>        Hi. I don't know, but I will ask around and let you know if I
> find
>        anything out!
>        My understanding (which may be wrong) is that copyright was not
> normally
>        accorded to articles appearing only in the newspapers in those
> days.
>        What are the exact words around - "...registered with the
> district..."
>        (Can you give me the whole sentence?)
>        DDD
>        ________________________________
>        From: Arianne [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
>        Sent: Wednesday, April 02, 2008 4:51 PM
>        To: Mark Twain Forum
>        Subject: Copyright question
>        Dear Mr. Davis,
>        Do you, or does anyone have knowledge about the reality of
> copyright
>        protection back in 1868?
>        Robert Bonner of The Ledger in New York commissioned Jesse Grant
> to
>        write
>        articles about his son, Ulysses.  At the bottom of the first
> column he
>        recorded that
>        they'd been registered with a district something.  Am I correct
> in
>        assuming this
>        was an effort to copyright the articles?   (He did not add that
>        protection to articles by Greely or H.W. Beecher.)
>        And if so, what would infringe upon the copyright?   Would there
> be
>        consequences?
>        Charles Dana of the SUN published the Ledger Grant articles in
> his paper
>        BEFORE they appeared in the Ledger!
>        Would this have any legal implications in those days?
>        All this is significant to me in connection with an issue
> involving
>        Twain.
>        THANKS for any opinions or help,
>        Arianne Laidlaw