12 SEPTEMBER 1952, Page 2


The universal copyright convention, signed at Geneva on Saturday by the delegates sent by forty-three States to the con- ference arranged after long preparation by U.N.E.S.C.O., does not supersede but rather links the existing Berne and Pan- American conventions. The news of agreement was welcomed by authors and publishers, who have hitherto been much harassed by the multiplicity of formalities which had to be observed before copyright could be established abroad. The new agreement sweeps these away, and now each of the States whose representatives put their signatures to the document should grant the same minimum protection to foreign authors and artists as they give to their own nationals. The printing of the single letter C, together with the name of the copyright holder and the date of first publication, is to establish copyright and signify protection. It was a great moment when the Librarian of the United States Congress, Mr. Luther Evans, signed the convention, for this was in effect a bridging of the gulf between the Berne and Pan-American agreements. British authors have long had a grievance against the American regulations, which demand that any book in English published outside the United States must, to qualify for copyright, be published in the United States soon after its first publica- tion, and also that it must be set up, printed and bound there. A recent law softened this a little by permitting the importation of up to 1,500 copies of any book without prejudice to copyright. There remains the clear conflict between the convention which Mr. Evans signed at Geneva and the existing American requirements. "I hope we can get this convention through Congress," Mr. Evans is reported to have said, " but it may be difficult." British authors must not con- gratulate themselves too soon.