Authors and publishers on the offensive: the Canadian copyright act of 1921 and the publishing industry 1920-1930.
--Lorne Pierce (2)
In a burst of postwar optimism, three Toronto publishers announced their commitment to publish Canadian books. First in 1918 was forty-two-year old John McClelland of McClelland and Stewart, who told John Murray Gibbon, "We are specializing as far as possible in the works of Canadian writers, and prefer to give place to a Canadian book every time," and he bragged, "We have yet to lose a dollar on any Canadian book that we have ever published." (3) In 1921, the new book editor and literary advisor at Ryerson Press, Lorne Pierce, thirty-one years old, affirmed the need "to preserve our national identity ... through the Canadian character and ideal. To do this we must preserve our national poise, our independence, and spread out our own soul and interpret our own thought and life in our own way. Therefore our authors must be encouraged to perform this function for us." (4) In that same year the new president of the Macmillan Company of Canada, twenty-seven-year-old Hugh Eayrs, announced: "We are going to regard as a distinct duty the forwarding, by every possible effort, of Canadian production of Canadian authorship. We have not done enough to link the best name in the book world with Canadian work and whatever else we do or don't do we are going to stimulate by every bit that is in us the discovery to the Canadian reader of the Canadian author." (5) These were brave words from an agency publisher, a religious publisher, and a British subsidiary in a country where few Canadian books were profitable.
The country had emerged from four years of traumatic reports about muddy clashes in Flanders, torpedoed ships in the northern Atlantic, and dogfights in brittle planes. In 1914 man-of-letters Andrew Macphail, according to his biographer Ian Ross Robertson, hoped that "the war was to be more than a spiritual purgative for individuals," and that "it would lead to a regeneration of Canadian society." (6) He "had gone to war in his fiftieth year with extravagant and, as events proved, misplaced expectations." (7) Macphail, his son, and his brother returned worn out and in bad health. Even in early 1915, Macphail's close friend Stephen Leacock began to feel his age, writing to Pelham Edgar, "I suppose you and Mrs. Edgar feel as depressed and preoccupied over the war as we do here. I never felt it so much before, I mean the aspect of interminable length. There seems damn little light." (8) On the home front, there was more to come: shortages, rising prices, and a new income tax. Women undertook new roles in the work place, and some of them won the right to vote. A generation of young men did not return from war service, but those who did, like Harold Innis, were forever changed. After the Armistice there was a desire to build a new world out of so much suffering and loss. Lorne Pierce, who had served in Canada, sensed something new: "There had been Vimy, and I think that Canada as a nation was born in that fatal ridge." (9) In spite of economic setbacks and labour strikes in the postwar years, Canada's war efforts inspired confidence, renewal, and a search for new bearings.
Speaking at the Canadian Club in Hamilton, Ontario, in October 1922, Hugh Eayrs declared, "The war did to Canadian letters what years of academic study might never have done. It taught us our place as a distinct national entity and so awoke national consciousness which found expression through a national literature. The Canadian mind is made up of many individual types, which are not known to British or American writers, so Canadians must necessarily express the Canadian mind." (10) Eayrs's speech followed on a campaign encouraging the "national consciousness" by the promotion of Canadian writing and demands for updated copyright laws. The copyright changes would bring market rights in line with international agreements and business practice, thereby reinvigorating the publication of foreign books, the revenues from which would help finance the publication of Canadian books. Innovative publishers sought out authors, and developed Canadian textbooks and studies on Canadian society. Readers would discover new voices in literature and criticism as modernists squared off against traditionalists. Copyright, for all its complexity, proved easier to update than the creation of the "national literature" of Eayrs's prediction. Although these initiatives had important results in the 1920s, their full impact took almost thirty years to realize.
I. The Canadian Authors Meet
Stephen Leacock Hosts a Dinner
The campaign itself began in earnest in early 1921 at a dinner hosted by Stephen Leacock at the McGill University Club for Pelham Edgar, John Murray Gibbon, and B.K. Sandwell. After drinks and discussion, they decided it was time for authors to get serious about the new copyright bill before Parliament. (11) Sandwell and Gibbon were so angered by its defects that they sent out hundreds of invitations to an authors' convention in Montreal to discuss the question. What emerged in Montreal was, in novelist Arthur Stringer's words, "the professional birth of Canadian letters." (12)
Leacock and his three friends were the midwives at this birth. Pelham Edgar (1871-1948), Leacock's colleague when they were young teachers in the 1890s at Toronto's Upper Canada College, was now professor of English at Victoria College in the University of Toronto, and was "perhaps the most influential critic and supporter of Canadian letters." (13) He had come a long way since 1904 when he answered his own question, "Has Canada a National Literature?" with, regretfully, not yet. Writer Madge Macbeth thought that his "change of heart ... must have been a tough struggle for him." (14) Even so, Edgar cautioned that Canadian literature "was as yet in a nascent state and that the new organization [should] not make itself ridiculous in the eyes of the world by assuming its product was already of large and important proportions." (15) Considered aloof and condescending, an appearance reinforced by a glum walrus moustache, his private gestures of kindness sustained many writers critically and financially.
John Murray Gibbon (1875-1952), born in Ceylon and educated in England, arrived in Montreal in 1913 to work as publicist for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). By 1921 he had published three novels and was thoroughly in love with Canada's ethnic heritage, which he celebrated in The Canadian Mosaic (1938). Watson Kirkconnell sensed that Gibbon's "air of gentle abstraction concealed business acumen, relentless energy, and imaginative scholarship" (fig. 1). (16)
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
Bernard Keble Sandwell (1876-1954), Leacock's pupil at Upper Canada College, was a journalist of wide interests, having served as drama critic for the Montreal Herald (from 1905 to 1911) and editor of the Financial Times during the Great War. Appointed editor of the Canadian Bookman in 1919, Sandwell's first editorial, "The New Era," predicted that Canada's "new national self-consciousness" (17) would nurture literature and the discussion of social and political ideas (fig. 2).
[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]
Montreal, 11 and 12 March 1921: The Canadian Authors' Association is Formed
Pen-pushers from the western provinces, expatriate novelists from New
England, story-tellers from Nova Scotia, magazine-writers from the banana belt of Ontario, silver-tongued poets from Quinte and Old Quebec, scholars and philosophers from the universities, and even publishers and magazine-makers from the sister city of Toronto. They were there to get unionized.
--Arthur Stringer (18)
Most of the 110 men and women who gathered in Montreal on the weekend of 11 and 12 March 1921 were authors and journalists, librarians, and academics. (19) The sprinkling of publishers included Emil Daoust of Librairie Beauchemin, Hugh Eayrs of the Macmillan Company of Canada, C.J. Musson and Frank Appleton of the Musson Book Company, Theodore Pike, the Longmans Canadian traveller, George Stewart of McClelland and Stewart, and Sidney Watson of Thomas Nelson & Sons. Canada's famous soldier, General Sir Arthur Currie, recently appointed principal of McGill University, greeted the battalion of authors and noted the appropriateness of Montreal as a gathering point for the two founding peoples. There was unanimous support for the new Canadian Authors' Association (CAA) proposed by Sandwell and seconded by novelist Basil King. It would act "for mutual benefit and protection and for the maintenance of high ideals and practice" (20) in the literary profession. The copyright committee consisted of lawyer Warwick Chipman, and novelists Madge Macbeth, Robert Stead, and Arthur Stringer. Louvigny de Montigny, a Montreal lawyer versed in international copyright, (21) proposed in French that the authors express solidarity with the authors' societies in Britain and France and the Berne Union. Other resolutions called for expanding the reading public, promoting public libraries, and lobbying for more newspaper space on Canadian writing, which, the authors claimed, had as much value as holdups, murders, political squabbles, municipal corruption, and baseball scores. Moving this resolution, J. Vernon Mackenzie, the editor of MacLean's Magazine, noted wryly that his career had been devoted to these incidents, but agreed that more attention to literary matters would be helpful. Arthur Stringer, on assignment for MacLean's, thought such stuff was "mighty interesting" (22) ever since the time of Homer. Plans were made for a national book week. (23) A French-language section of the new organization was organized under Victor Morin. (24)
The after-dinner speeches at the Place Viger Hotel abounded in idealistic phrases about nationalism and literary culture. (25) Stephen Leacock was in the chair briefly but ducked out early for a Toronto engagement, apologizing for not delivering a humorous and lengthy review of literature in Canada from its foundations to the present. Reverend Basil King, living in retirement in Cambridge, Massachusetts, made a strong impression when he said that the "proper function" of the Canadian author was to be a "hyphen" between the United States and Great Britain, "to be an American to the Britisher, and a Britisher to the American, and withal an out and out Canadian all the time." Speaking in French, Louvigny de Montigny referred to passionate discussions years earlier about whether or not Canada had a literature, observing that "a complete literature was written to prove she had none." He noted how Marius Barbeau explained that three hundred years ago the Indians had a perfectly good copyright law, for "every family had its family song, and no one dared quote from or sing the song of another family without acknowledging whose property it was"--on pain of death. Frank Packard declared that American publishers always extended a "hearty welcome" to Canadian writers. Archibald MacMechan called for the "impeachment of the Canadian for his characteristic crime of diffidence" toward the literature of his country and ignorance of the facts that France had honoured Louis Frechette as a Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur and that Sam Slick (i.e., Thomas Chandler Haliburton) "had founded the school of American humor." (16)
On behalf of the publishers, Hugh Eayrs expressed "delight" that the authors were organizing and acknowledged that "Canadian publishers perhaps disregarded hidden literary treasure in their own country when exploiting the work of foreign authors." Now they had "their ear close to the ground for the faintest indication of Canadian literary achievement." At that point Bliss Carman, the "very picture of a poet or creative genius," stood up and recited his poem "The Man of the Marne" to such enthusiastic applause that he recited a second one. (27) Arthur Stringer made "eulogistic references to the quality of the refreshment in Montreal and hoped many anniversaries of the birthday of Canadian letters might also be spent here." (28)
On Saturday the constitution and bylaws were adopted, which were based "on the constitution of a fishing club of which [Gibbon] was a member." (29) Gibbon was elected president, B.K. Sandwell, secretary, and W.S. Wallace, honorary treasurer. Carman wrote his friend Peter McArthur that Gibbon was "a very good choice," one who "doesn't like the idea of American dollars dominating Canadian letters, and is likely to make a fight on that line--though he doesn't fight." (30) Most of the morning's discussion, however, concerned the copyright bill. A visitor from Ottawa, Philip Ritchie, the registrar of copyrights and reputedly the person who had written the copyright bill, was sent as an observer from the Department of Justice. Bombarded from all sides over the unfairness of the bill, Ritchie suggested that it be passed as it stood so that amendments could be made later. (31)
The campaign evolved into two strands, the fight for authors' rights in copyright legislation, and the promotion of Canadian books. The copyright committee and two lawyers tried to sway members of parliament and senators. Gibbon and Robert Stead testified before a special committee of the Commons. On 4 June the Copyright Act received royal assent, but it did not become law until 1924 because it required adjustments regarding international rights and domestic protections. In 1921, however, the public heard less about the intricacies of copyright and far more about Canadian books being celebrated with a lot of partying.
II. 1921: Promoting the First Canadian Book Week
An anecdotal report by Arthur Stringer for MacLean's Magazine (15 April 1921) achieved wide publicity for the CAA and included portraits of Canada's leading writers, some of whom headed up the nine CAA branches across the country. Gibbon at the CPR and his counterpart at the Canadian National Railway, Walter S. Thompson, arranged for free travel passes for members to form branches and attend conventions--until the Board of Railway Commissioners put a stop to this perk. Gibbon, with an ever-present Pall Mall cigarette dangling from his lips, and Stringer, hearty and sociable, attended the formation of most of the western branches, where enthusiastic authors turned out in large numbers (fig. 3). (32) A tenth branch in Boston, headed by Basil King, served the interests of Canadian authors residing in the United States. Membership was expanded to include artists and illustrators. Some CAA members also belonged to the Canadian Society of Authors, formed in 1899 to combat many of the same problems still facing authors in 1921. At its annual meeting in March 1921, the CSA, in a move designed to preserve its charter, was incorporated as an Ontario organization, and then it merged with the CAA. (33)
[FIGURE 3 OMITTED]
Complaints that Canadian publishers would not take risks on authors were voiced at CAA meetings. Before the Great War, Madge Macbeth claimed, "Canadian publishers and editors gave us little encouragement. They were ashamed of us. They used Canadian material to promote advertising or bought second serial rights of what had appeared elsewhere. When they did sneak in a Canadian story (or publish a book) they patted themselves on the back and boasted of their patriotism!" (34) By 1921, however, several enterprising publishers were on side and were admitted as associate members of the CAA. Hugh Eayrs met Pelham Edgar for the first time, and over tea they agreed to set up the Toronto branch. Eayrs wrote in his diary, "Curious person but, I should think, interesting." (35) They would remain good friends and golf companions until 1938. (In that year a rift occurred when friends of Eayrs tried to persuade him to take sick leave, it appeared to Eayrs that Edgar was angling to take his place as president of the Macmillan Company of Canada.) (36) Eayrs told Baokseller and Statianer that the CAA "promises to be a real, live association," and said, "I feel the publishers' interests are identical with those of authors," who "will talk to publishers now as business men to business men." (37) The Toronto branch co-opted W.C.A. Moffatt, the editor of Bookseller and Stationer, to serve on one of its committees. Sandwell turned the Canadian Bookman into the CAA's official organ and introduced a French-language section, an innovation that was one factor in his forced departure from the magazine in late 1922. He had purchased the Bookman a year earlier but cash-flow problems forced him to merge it with Findley I. Weaver's Canadian Book Trade Journal and move the editorial office to Toronto. The two men quarrelled over the French section and Sandwell's emphasis on literary material. Weaver installed a new editorial committee composed of Merrill Denison, Thomas Marquis, and Jesse Middleton, (38) who included essays on the arts, painting, and the little theatre movement. Sandwell found a position in the English department at Queen's University, Kingston, from 1923 to 1925, put in a stint as editor of the Financial Times (Montreal) from 1926 to 1930, and finished his illustrious career as editor of Saturday Night magazine (Toronto) from 1931 to 1951.
When it came to schemes to sell books, publishers enthusiastically made common cause with authors. In late March, the Book Publishers' Section of the Toronto Board of Trade held a dinner meeting at the National Club with speeches by Gibbon and Frederick Melcher, the editor of Publishers' Weekly. John McClelland, the chair of the Publishers' Section, thought the founding of the CAA was "the finest thing that ever happened for Canadian authors," (39) and he announced plans for a book week. Through the summer and fall of 1921 authors, booksellers, librarians, and publishers mounted a massive publicity campaign for the first-ever Canadian Authors' Book Week, 19 to 26 November 1921, timed for the Christmas book-buying season (fig. 4). The Publishers' Section distributed promotional materials to authors and booksellers. In September, Hugh Eayrs told the first meeting of the revived Canadian Booksellers' Association that authors were depending on the co-operation of retailers. (40) In the October issue of Bookseller and Stationer, Gibbon advised publishers and booksellers to help put the "Canadian Book on the Canadian Map." His headline boomed:
Together We Stand--Divided We Fall! !! Strike While the Iron is Hot!! (41)
[FIGURE 4 OMITTED]
Book Week celebrations were held across the country from Halifax to Victoria. In Montreal, Bliss Carman was the luncheon guest at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on 29 October. The "unassuming" Carman was praised by Gibbon as "Canada's distinctive poet," an expression of heartfelt kindness in light of Carman's recent recovery from a grave illness. Then Gibbon stepped aside as a group of school girls danced into the room, singing a specially composed tribute, "The Dance of the Maple Leaves." (42) The Maple Leaf girls wore fluttering orange crepe and performed against a white wall bedecked with bronze-red maple leaves. While they circled Carman the youngest child stretched up and placed a laurel garland on his head (fig. 5). Carman, who had always associated music and dancing in his poetry, was very pleased and then read his poetry. The next day, after a reading at McGill University, Carman began a triumphal and exhausting poetry-reading tour of Western Canada.
[FIGURE 5 OMITTED]
In Toronto, authors were displayed like the best china at tea parties. At Victoria College, Pelham Edgar lectured on Duncan Campbell Scott, and Vincent Massey on Louis Hemon, the author of Maria Chapdelaine, which in English translation had become the novel of the year. The Montreal Community Players brought Marjorie Pickthall's play about artists, The Wood Carver's Wife, to Hart House. The libraries tacked up posters of authors donated by the Macmillan Company of Canada and McClelland and Stewart. Even the department stores proclaimed their devotion to literature. Eaton's mounted one of the largest book exhibits ever assembled in Canada--which included Rufus Hathaway's collection of first editions of Canadiana--in booths decorated with Union Jacks and maple leaves. Simpson's presented talks and readings by novelists Douglas Durkin, W.A. Fraser, Basil King, Nellie McClung, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Marshall Saunders, and Jessie Sime. Popular women writers were well received at all these literary events. Nellie McClung, the animated chair of the Edmonton branch, was in demand everywhere--as lecturer at Massey Hall, as a visitor along with Marshall Saunders and Florence Randal Livesay at the Women's Art Association, and as a guest of honour of the CAA Toronto branch for an extraordinary evening at the most in-place for literati in Toronto, the Arts and Letters Club on Elm Street. In a break with tradition, women "invaded ... the sacred precincts of the Arts and Letters Club at the dinner hour," and McClung, a "striking figure in black net, embroidered with rose and silver and crystal, a scarf of flame-colour chiffon across her shoulder," (43) sat beside Pelham Edgar, who had arranged the affair. James L. Hughes brought as his guest the slim and elegantly dressed British suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, who was living in Toronto that winter. Ata similar event in Ottawa, Lady Byng, the wife of the governor general, suggested that everyone should look around for the Canadian Kipling. (44) Literary events had been hijacked by the social and publishing establishment, which immediately set off alarms.
The Canadian Forum was dismayed to see the CAA exploited in Book Week by publishers' gimmicks. An editorial note in December 1921 warned that "criticism under the wing of the publisher never reads the same as criticism that is morally independent." (45) In January 1922, University of Toronto professor Barker Fairley, the literary editor of the Canadian Forum, concluded that, having made "a shockingly bad start from which it will take a long time to recover," the Canadian Authors' Association in this "orgy of mutual congratulation" has "confused its interests with those of the publishers" because "it has, tacitly at least, endorsed that low standard of literary merit which is comfortable to every Canadian who possesses a fountain-pen." (46) Although sympathetic to the CAA's protection of the interests of Canadian authors, Fairley recognized that its other purpose of maintaining the high ideals and practice of the literary profession would require "vigorous self-criticism," and was skeptical that the CAA could avoid "bad reviewing" and "cheap advertising." (47) Even the Canadian Bookman stooped to puff a celebrity. It's February 1922 cover photograph celebrated Bliss Carman's appearance in Montreal with the caption: "BLISS CARMAN: Crowned with a Laurel Wreath by a Group of Montreal Maidens, as Canada's Major Poet." A slightly embarrassed Carman peers through his glasses with what looks like a bird's nest on his head. No one really disputed Carman's laurels, but even apotheosis has its tacky side.
Although literary reviews and quarrels are not central to this paper, it is worth stating that the promising start by Findley I. Weaver and his friends at the Canadian Bookman petered out by the last half of the 1920s. At first, the Bookman called for the teaching of Canadian literature in universities, and offered discriminating reviews of Joseph Conrad, Robert Frost, Thomas Mann, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Virginia Woolf, and William Butler Yeats. Gradually, in spite of interesting debates about realism and naturalism, contributors began to echo the booming of the CAA. h looked as if Fairley and the group around him--Douglas Bush, Frank Scott, and A.J.M. Smith, with their high spirits and satiric barbs--were correct about the lack of self-criticism in the Canadian Bookman. Nowhere was the divide between it and the Canadian Forum clearer than in their attitudes toward tradition versus modernism. The Bookman dismissed Morley Callaghan's first novel, Strange Fugitive (New York: Scribner's, 1928), for its representation of "shooting and depravity" in "Toronto the Good": "Despite Callaghan's quick rise to literary fame it is a question whether any future increase in fame will ever rest upon this book despite the fact that it is cleverly done with an eye to the box office." (48) At one CAA meeting in 1931, W.A. Fraser called the works of Elinor Gynn, Theodore Dreiser, and Aldous Huxley disgusting, and Huxley's Point Caunter Paint (1928) "the filthiest book in the world." (49) Nevertheless, the CAA's success in improving the conditions of authorship must be applauded.
Book reviewers such as William Arthur Deacon played an important role in educating readers about Canadian writers (fig. 6). Deacon (1890-1960) was a friend of E.J. Pratt and Arthur Phelps from their days at Victoria College, Toronto, where Deacon also developed a dislike for Pelham Edgar, whom he associated with the colonial British side of Canadian life. "I know him to be an aper of the English Gentleman. He can never forget that his mother was Lady Edgar," he wrote to Judge Emily Murphy in 1921 when he and Phelps were forming the Winnipeg branch of the CAA. "He considers that enthusiasm is vulgar, and the kind you and I have particularly barbarous." (50) In 1922 the ambitious Deacon, who had earned a reputation in Toronto for his reviews, heard that journalist Peter Donovan had left Saturday Night to work for Lord Beaverbrook in London. Armed with an introduction from Sandwell, Deacon approached the magazine and was hired, thus becoming "the first full-time, professional book reviewer that Canada had ever seen," (51) as Deacon himself recalled in 1944 (conveniently overlooking the influential reviewing career of S. Morgan-Powell at the Montreal Star). Deacon left Saturday Night in 1928, joined the Mail and Empire from 1928 to 1936, and after its merger with the Glabe in 1936, served as literary editor of the Glabe and Mail until his retirement in 1960. He was active in the CAA, published several books, was a juror for the Governor General's Literary Awards, and was also active in the left-of-centre Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), which was re-organized as the New Democratic Party (NDP) in 1961.
[FIGURE 6 OMITTED]
III. The Campaign for Authors' Rights
A Brief Background
For the second time in thirty years, a copyright bill polarized publishers and printers, transformed authors into militant lobbyists, and baffled members of parliament, who believed they were enacting the wishes of the book industry. It was an old story. How could a small nation emerging from a colonial past develop its book industries and professional authorship within a world well into the first stages of globalization led by Britain and the United States, whose laws and treaties privileged their own industries? Even with its postwar assertions of autonomy, Canada could not uncouple its legal and commercial links to the mother country and the powerful neighbour to the south, links that had benefited many Canadian authors, publishers, and readers. With the ever-increasing importation of American books and magazines, the question of authors' rights was tied to another question--how to resolve the anomaly in which British, American, and international copyright laws handed American publishers an advantage in the Canadian market.
Since the nineteenth century Canadian printers had tried to link copyright protection to a manufacturing clause. Their efforts were unsuccessful, despite Ottawa's support. The printers saw the manufacturing clause as necessary retaliation against the Americans, whose own law included such a measure. Authors and publishers, on the other hand, argued that copyright protection should be independent of the place of first publication. They pointed to the Berne Convention, the Reciprocal Copyright Agreement of 1891 between the United States and Britain, and Canada's own 1900 Copyright Amendment to support their view. (52)
After 1900 there was universal agreement in Canada that the imperial Copyright Act of 1842 and the Canadian Copyright Act of 1875 must be replaced. The United Kingdom repealed the 1842 Act with the Copyright Act of 1911 (1-2 Geo. 5, c. 46), which granted reciprocal rights to countries within the British Empire and the Berlin Convention, and dropped the requirement for registration of titles at Stationers' Hall. Clause 5 stated that "the author shall be the first owner of the copyright," and extended his or her copyright in a work for fifty years after death. It permitted the copyright owner to prevent the importation of a work from one part of the Empire to another. The 1911 Act never had force in Canada, because at the 1910 Copyright Conference in London (a subsidiary of the Imperial Conference, which was attended by the overseas dominions and colonies) the Canadian delegates, Sidney Fisher, the minister of agriculture, and Philip Ritchie, the registrar of copyright in the Department of Agriculture, promised that Canada would frame an act consistent with the new British one, as a self-governing dominion rather than as a British colonial dependency. (53) Before the act could be passed, however, Wilfred Laurier's Liberais lost a bitterly contested election in September 1911 to Robert Borden's Conservatives over trade reciprocity with the United States, and the Great War delayed the introduction of new bills.
One Canadian caught in the legislative disjunction of this period was the entertainer, Lieutenant Gitz Rice (1891-1947), who was invalided home after being gassed at Vimy Ridge, and sent to New York to assist the British and Canadian recruiting mission. Rice composed the hit song, "Dear Old Pal O' Mine," which the Columbia Gramophone Company recorded. Columbia refused to pay him royalties because he was a Canadian and there was no American copyright reciprocity with Canada. The Authors' and Composers' Association of Canada complained that other American firms refused to protect Canadian songs (many popular war songs were composed by Canadians) or pay royalties from piano rolls and records. (54) Eventually Rice's American lawyer successfully appealed his case. (55)
Within two months of the war's end the Authors' and Composers' Association of Canada urged Ottawa to pass its version of the 1911 Act, and pointed out that Canadian authors could not prevent movie companies from reproducing their works without payment. An amendment to the Copyright Act of 1875 with respect to composers, records, and movies was passed in 1919, (56) but the major copyright bill, Bill E, ran into problems. When the Book Publishers' Section sent S.B. Gundy and Frank Wise to ask the Senate Committee on Copyright to eliminate its manufacturing clause, a delegation of printers headed by Charles Port of the Musson Book Company (which had no printing plant) demanded retention of the clause. (57) The Senate withdrew Bill E in order to investigate better arrangements with the Americans, but Sandwell attacked it for retaliating against the Americans and made the same argument in 1920 against a similar copyright bill (No. 37), (58) which also died on the order table.
The 1921 Copyright Acta "Snuggling Up to the Lawmakers" (59)
At first reading on 28 February 1921, the copyright bill, which was based on the 1911 Act, aimed to repeal all previous imperial and domestic copyright legislation. Its intentions were to have Canada adhere to the Berne and Berlin Conventions and to protect the rights of authors, but the printing lobby was determined to make it retaliate against US protection of American printers. Dan A. Rose of the Canadian Copyright Association led this lobby and was joined by the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, the Toronto Typothetae (employing printers), and the Canadian branch of the International Typographical Union. After the failure of the 1920 bill, they decided to "mitigate the rigor of the manufacture-in-Canada requirements by a licensing system" (60) (sections 13, 14, 15, and 27). Section 13 permitted anyone to apply for a licence to print and publish a copyright work that had not been published in Canada within sixty days of publication elsewhere. This would not have required the author's permission and would have applied to authors of all nations. Such wording would effectively have taken Canada out of the Berne Convention. Section 14, supported by magazine publishers, allowed them to dispose of serial rights without the author's consent. Watson Kirkconnell later wrote in his memoirs that the printers "were presumed to have their eyes on the books of Stephen Leacock, from which they hoped to make a killing." (61) The traditional manufacturing clause remained in the bill, but the printers focused on results from the licensing sections, as did the minister of justice, Charles Doherty, who introduced the bill.
Doherty's cavalier attitude infuriated Sandwell and Gibbon. The CAA agreed with the government's efforts to encourage more book production in Canada, but insisted that copyright serve the author first and the printer second; otherwise, licensing amounted to legalized piracy because the government could assign publication of any book not printed in Canada to any Canadian printer who applied for a licence. The CAA argued, for example, that L.M. Montgomery would have no protection in her own country if she published abroad first. She could lose royalties because the American publisher usually arranged for the manufacture of enough copies for both the American and Canadian markets. This was clarified by Mackenzie King, who was more knowledgeable about publishing than most members of parliament, in his explanation that the American publisher paid a graded royalty on an increasing number of total sales, which included the Canadian market. (62) The Book Publishers' Section of the Toronto Board of Trade, which included both locally owned houses with important agency connections and branch managers of foreign houses, argued that the agency publishing business would be destroyed, which would jeopardize their relations with foreign principals. They threw their support behind the authors.
For the second reading on 3 May, Charles Doherty offered minor face-saving adjustments that he called a "compromise"--his favourite buzz word--with the Canadian Authors' Association, but it was nothing of the sort. The modifications were the removal of the fifty-year licensing period to five years, and the removal of the fixed rate of 10% royalty. At third reading of the bill on 25 May, Doherty said that the government was unable to meet the CAA's demand for removal of the licensing clauses, but explained how the manufacturing condition had been softened: "We have substituted a license provision, requiring, not that the author shall state his intention of not printing in Canada as in the original draft of the Bill, but that if he does not so print then a license can be granted to any applicant upon giving sufficient royalty to the author. The author, therefore, is protected." (63) He argued that if and when the imperial government and the Berne authorities protested officially, the act's inconsistencies would be tested. Licensing, its lobbyists promised, would protect Canadian production and distribution against American control. Book-industry lobbyists in Ottawa were an assortment of book and magazine publishers, printers, importers and distributors, associations of publishers and retailers, and authors--that is, manufacturers, entrepreneurs, small businessmen, and creators, some of whom functioned in more than one of these capacities. No wonder members of parliament were confused when rifts arose among these groups. As in the past, the government supported manufacturing interests in copyright matters. The bill was passed by the Commons on 25 May, by the Senate on 31 May, given royal assent on 4 June (11-12 Geo. 5, c. 24), but was not proclaimed for two and a half years.
Although the 1921 Act did not define "author" in section 2, the "author" was nevertheless identified as "the first owner of the copyright" in section 11, which gave him/her "the sole right to produce or reproduce the work or any substantial part thereof in any material form whatsoever," and also included the subsidiary rights to translations and to dramatic, musical, motion-picture, radio, and record versions (section 3). On 27 October Canada received an objection to the Act from the British government. Sandwell again blasted Ottawa for protecting the interests of compositors, pressmen, and binders in a withering analysis in the Queen's Quarterly: "The new Act grants copyright upon the most liberal terms imaginable ... The only trouble is that the copyright in Canada, when you have obtained it, is not a right to multiply and disseminate copies. In all other countries which are parties to the Berne Convention, copyright is a right to multiply copies anywhere and to disseminate them in the country granting the copyright." (64) Even though Dan A. Rose stated otherwise, (65) the Act did not bring Canada into line with the Berne Convention or enshrine the rights of authors, and the British government did not promulgate the Act.
In 1923 the recently elected Liberals under Mackenzie King introduced an amendment addressing the complaints of the British government and the Berne authorities in their organ, Le Droit d'auteur. The minister of trade and commerce, James A. Robb, considered repealing the licensing sections, but changed the wording so that licensing would not apply to British subjects or citizens of Berne Convention countries but would apply to Canadian subjects and Americans. Practically no one in the House could understand what would be the effect of the clause; even Robb admitted that he did not understand whose rights were being infringed. (66) A Manitoba member of parliament, Robert Hoey, sighed, "I cannot persuade myself that it was carefully considered. I think the majority of us did not understand the significance of the amendment at all. (67) The Conservatives insisted that Canada ignore the British and the Berne Convention, and heed the Canadian Manufacturers' Association and the typographical unions. This Amendment (13-14 Geo. 5, c.10), like the 1921 Act, required approval by the British government before it came into force on I January 1924. Publishers' Weekly (9 June 1923) (68) recognized that the licensing sections in the new law were aimed squarely at the American manufacturing clause, and warned that Canada must now satisfy the United States and the Berne authorities on the protection of authors. From the United States Bliss Carman wrote to his friend Kate Eastman that the legislation was "sickening ... All [authors] need is to be protected in their property rights like any other body of workers. This they don't get. A country that doesn't give its writers as square a deal as it gives the rest of its citizens can't expect to have any writers. For years the United States failed to treat its authors honestly--until it found out that it would be to the advantage of its printers to do so. Our own government seems to be even less honest." (69)
In Publishers' Weekly the Americans expressed apprehension about the 1923 Amendment, and Le Droit d'auteur expressed concern about Canada's adherence to the Berne Convention and its revisions. Le Droit d'auteur believed that the situation could be resolved with a reciprocal agreement between Canada and the United States. (70) At almost the last hour the way was cleared for the long-awaited reciprocal agreement. On 23 December 1923 Thomas Low, the new minister of trade and commerce, announced that Americans would receive the same treatment as Canadians, and President Coolidge's proclamation on 29 December gave the same protection to Canadians as those granted to Americans under US law. The 1921 Copyright Act and the 1923 Amendment were proclaimed on 1 January 1924. Americans no longer had to obtain Canadian protection by first publication in London, and the 1842 Act no longer had force in Canada.
"This Whole Thing Is a Farce" (71)
There were unsuccessful attempts to kill the licensing sections and registration of copyright. At the 1924 CAA annual convention in Quebec City, Watson Kirkconnell recalled, "criticism of the federal government for its copyright turpitude was so violent ... that [novelist] Bob Stead, as a civil servant, felt moved to resign from the national presidency. He was promptly succeeded by Lawrence Burpee, another civil servant, but one with less caution or a more phlegmatic disposition." (72) When Liberal MP Edgar Chevrier tried to repeal licensing, his 1925 private member's bill, Bill No. 2, provoked so much anger that the government appointed a special committee in February 1925 to investigate and recommend further amendments to the 1921 Act and 1923 Amendment. Chevrier, an Ottawa lawyer, was by turns witty, trenchant, and sarcastic, the most capable of several respected MPs on the committee, which almost succeeded with its amendments. Chaired by W.G. Raymond, it held seventeen meetings in Ottawa through the spring. Among its twenty-seven witnesses were opponents of licensing, including Lawrence Burpee, Louvigny de Montigny, John Murray Gibbon, Stephen Leacock, Madge Macbeth, and Edouard Fabre Surveyer, a judge. They were supported by George M. Kelley, counsel for the Book Publishers' Section of the Toronto Board of Trade. In favour of retaining licensing were Frank F. Appleton of the Musson Book Company, that year's chair of the Book Publishers' Section; Dr. Samuel Wesley Fallis, book steward of the Methodist Book and Publishing House and its trade arm, the Ryerson Press; and Dan A. Rose of the Canadian Copyright Association. Further support for licensing came from newspapers and magazines, radio stations and record companies, and the pulp and paper industry. J. Vernon MacKenzie of MacLean's Magazine spoke in favour of licensing for serial publications. The Canadian Manufacturing Association sent E. Blake Robertson, and printing unions sent a contingent headed by Wallace Sutherland of the Toronto Typothetae, J.A.P. Haydon of the Ontario and Quebec Typographical Union, and Alfred E. Thompson of the International Typographical Union. Emotions and personal attacks reached a higher level than was usual in the long history of parliamentary hearings on copyright.
Although several of the special committee's recommendations on definitions and clarifications in the 1921 and 1923 legislation were accepted, the government took the advice of the commissioner of copyrights in the Department of Agriculture, George O'Halloran, to retain the licensing clauses. The CAA annual meeting sent a resolution to both Houses of Parliament bitterly regretting that the major amendments "were knifed in the dark by an unscrupulous report from the Commission of Copyrights." (73)
In 1926 one of Chevrier's colleagues on the special committee, Leon Ladner, reintroduced the 1925 bill, but the constitutional controversy between Prime Minister King and Governor General Byng forced dissolution of the House on 2 July. When Watson Kirkconnell heard this news he asked Lawrence J. Burpee, "Am I right in supposing that
the general brawl has thrown Ladner's bill in the garbage?" Burpee joked, "Dat bill done gone flooey." (74) Delays caused by general elections in 1926 and 1930 brought the wrangling over registration and licensing to a head in 1931, when the latest revision to the Berne Convention, the Rome Convention (1928), (75) had to be ratified by 1 July. Non-ratification would mean the loss of membership in the Berne Convention: it was all or nothing. This convention repudiated licensing and registration. The 1931 Amendment dropped compulsory registration of copyrights although authors had to register if they intended to take a copyright infringement to court. Authors could sell serial rights to magazines and newspapers while retaining book rights. Finally, members of the House of Commons clarified the difference between British and North American views of copyright. In the United Kingdom, copyright law recognized the author (or creator) as the copyright owner, and considered copyright as a common law right in itself. Americans and some Canadians, on the other hand, regarded copyright as a privilege granted by the state. When this distinction was made by Liberals Fernand Rinfret and Edgar Chevrier, they were challenged by Charles Cahan, a Montreal businessman serving as the Conservatives' Secretary of State. Tasked with getting the amendment passed, Cahan declared that copyright only existed because it was a statute. (76)
For all their shortcomings, the 1921 Act and its 1923 and 1931 Amendments, among the last pieces of colonial legislation to be vetted by the imperial parliament, were important advances in securing the rights of authors. The 1931 Amendment obeyed the letter but not the spirit of the Rome Convention because printers persuaded Ottawa that Canada could retain the licensing clauses and still remain within the Berne Convention. The author was still required to print in Canada because the convention could not control internal regulations that applied to authors in their own country. Even so, the sections were essentially dead letters by the time of the 1925 special committee meetings, which brought the divisions over licensing into the open. These disputes over copyright reflect the diversity of interests involved in book production in Canada and North America.
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|Title Annotation:||p. 131-158|
|Author:||Parker, George L.|
|Publication:||Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2012|
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