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The New York Times, December 29, 1881


OTTAWA, Ontario, Dec. 28. - There has been some fearful blundering over the interpretation of the Canadian Copyright law within the past few weeks, and no one appears to have fallen into greater error than Mark Twain himself. He claims that when his book was issued in London, England, he acquired both an imperial and Canadian copyright, and although his application for local copyright had been refused, he knew his Canadian copyright was perfect without it. Mark Twain, to obtain an imperial copyright, had to submit to the conditions of the imperial act, which provides that the work must first be published n the United Kingdom, after which the copyright, so obtained, extends to all British possessions. Such copyright protects him against any Canadian reprint being made of his work, but does not save him, per se, from the importation into Canada of foreign reprints, having paid 12 1/2 per cent royalty at entering. Whereas, a Canadian copyright would have secured him from the introduction into Canada of any such foreign reprints. Mr. Clemens has fallen into error in supposing that he secures the same protection in the Dominion from an imperial copyright as he would from a copyright issued in Canada. Any person domiciled in Canada or in any part of the British possessions, or being a citizen of any country having an international copyright treaty with the United Kingdom, who is the author of any book, map, chart, or musical composition, &c., and legal representatives of such person, shall have the sole right and liberty of printing, reprinting, publishing, reproducing, and vending such literary or scientific works or compositions in whole or part, and of allowing translations to be printed or reprinted and sold of such literary works from one language into another language, for a term of 28 years from the time of recording the copyright. The Canada Official Gazette of Dec. 3 contained the following note:

Copyright Notice. - Notice is hereby given that an interim copyright has been taken out for a work entitled "The Prince and the Pauper," by Mark Twain. The Canadian edition will be published by Dawson Brothers, Montreal.

Although an interim registration was granted, the copyright was refused. In his application for an interim copyright, Mark Twain stated he was domiciled in Canada, whereas in his subsequent application for a full copyright he stated that he had an elective domicile in Canada, and consequently the second application was refused. In the eyes of the department here there is a wide difference between being domiciled in the country and electing to domicile in the same country. It is held that a person is domiciled in a country who resides in said country, with the animus manendi, while in law an elective domicile is an address or place where it has been agreed that the delivery will be accepted, although it does not follow that the person so electing his domicile there shall ever visit it. Another condition under which a Canadian copyright is granted is that the work be printed and published or reprinted and republished in Canada, whether published for the first time or contemporaneously with or subsequently to publication elsewhere, provided that in no case the exclusive privilege in Canada shall continue to exist after it has expired anywhere else.

Following closely upon the appointment of Mr. West as Commissioner of the British Government to confer with authorities at Washington on the subject of international copyright law, the case of Mark Twain has additional interest. During his recent visit to Washington it is understood that the Minister of Finance has conferred with Mr. West regarding the subject of international copyright treaty. Mr. West was instructed by the Imperial Government to confer with the Canadian Government and obtain such assistance as would enable the British Government to protect the interests of Canada in the event of an international copyright treaty being arranged between Great Britain and the United States. The result of Sir Leonard Tilley's interview with Mr. West has not been made public, although it is understood that the Dominion Government will afford Mr. West every facility to enable him to report at an early date to his Government. The Canadian Publishers' Association is now moving in the direction of petitioning the imperial Government for absolute power for the Dominion Parliament over copyright laws. The present Copyright act, which was passed by the Dominion Parliament in 1875, is also an imperial act, having been passed subsequently by the British Parliament and the House of Lords.

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