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International Copyright Act 1891

Must Know International Copyright Act of 1891 Overview

Must Know International Copyright Act of 1891 Overview

The International Copyright Act of 1891 was
the first act that offered copyright protection in the United States to
citizens of countries other than the United States. It was important for
American creators too because they were more likely to have international
copyright protection in countries that were offered the same protection by the United
States. Included in the
Act was the price of fees that must be paid to
the Library of Congress to register works and receive a copyright seal,
instructions for submitting items to the Library of Congress, instructions and
deadlines that must be met to successfully receive international copyright
protection and penalties for copyright infringement among some other details
included in the


Popular authors such as Mark Twain and Louisa May Alcott were fed
up with not having any international copyright protection for their work. The Act
allowed citizens of foreign nations to mail in their work before it was
published. This way the Library of Congress could grant them copyright
protection in the United States. Countries that agreed with American policy
could choose to enter into an agreement to offer American creators the same
protection in their country. Before the Copyright Act was passed in 1891, a
collaborator from another country had to be included in a work in order to
receive copyright protection in that country.

Content of the Act

The content of the Act includes:

     Fees to be paid by both national and international creators.

     Duration of copyrights including after the death of a

     Rules, instructions and guidelines for national and
international creators.

     Protection of copyrighted material.

     Penalties for breaking the laws set forth by the Copyright Act.

     Relationships between countries regarding copyright

International Implications

The work submitted to the Library of Congress
had to be completed on American material such as American plates or stones.
The work had to be submitted no later than the day of
publication either in the foreign country or the United States.
The creators home country had to be willing to offer similar
copyright protection to American copyright holders that citizens of that
were entitled to or the same protection offered
by the United States to foreigners.

If a United States president proclaimed he wanted the United States to extend
protection to a certain country, international copyright protection would be
granted. Presidents also had the right to remove copyright protection from
foreign counties.


Uncover the International Copyright Act of 1891

Uncover the International Copyright Act of 1891

International Copyright Act of 1891 served as a revision to the Copyright Act
of 1870. The revisions made in 1891 gave limited protection to foreign
copyright holders for the first time. The Act, commonly referred to as the
Chace Act after Rhode Island senator Jonathan Chace, was passed by the 51st Congress
on March 3rd, 1891. The first international copyright protected by the 1891 Act
was a play titled
 Saints and Sinners by British author Henry
Arthur Jones.

The American Copyright League was an organization
that supported the establishment of a movement that would eventually lead to
the creation of the International Copyright Act of 1891. They had been
supporters of the original Copyright Act established in 1870 but wanted
international copyright protection. Other popular writers who wished copyright
laws would extend beyond the United States included Mark Twain, Louisa May
Alcott, and Edward Eggleston. All of these writers sent letters to the
 Century Journal stating
their case and the need for international copyright laws.

Before the International Copyright Act of 1891, a
creator of an original work had to gain residency in the country in which they
wished to be protected by copyright laws. This is not an effective way of
establishing international copyright laws. If an author was willing to include
a citizen of a foreign country as a collaborator in their work, that work could
be copyright protected in the collaborator’s home land.

The Act offered protection to any nation willing
to enter into an agreement with the United States regarding copyright laws that
could be shared between nations. Foreign relations played a role in agreements
between nations aside from entering into agreements together. If a country was
willing to protect the rights of American copyrighted material, a presidential
proclamation could be made granting a foreign nation the same rights.