The effort which is now being made by the Author's League to produce a change in the copyright laws is one which should commend itself to all who are interested in American letters. Under existing conditions, the copyright of a work is owned by the publisher, not the author. A delegation now in Washington is pleading before the House Patents Committee for a reversal of this situation. There is little doubt that the change would be a beneficial one, and ought to be made.
It is platitudinous to say that the lot of a young author is a hard one. But much of its difficulty springs from legal complications which ought to be abolished. Unscrupulous publishers, as a member of the League observed, can use the copyright for purely personal gain, since redress is ordinarily too expensive for the beginning author. Moreover, the development of the films has greatly enlarged the market for certain kinds of literature. The helplessness of the author, who has little or no control over his work after it is written, is correspondingly increased.
The argument that the copyright should afford as much protection to the writer as the patent does to the inventor, is too cogent to be disregarded. The time has passed when international piracy was an unrebuked occurrence in the publishing world. Today, objections to so simple and natural a change are seldom from disinterested sources. Protection of his rights is a duty which society owes to the writer.