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Letters on International (Classic Reprint)

Letters on International (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Letters on International

At the date, now fourteen years since, of the first publication of these letters, the important case of authors versus readers - makers of books versus consumers of facts and ideas - had for several years been again on trial in the high court of the people. But few years previously the same plaintiffs had obtained a verdict giving large extension of time to the monopoly privileges they had so long enjoyed. Not content therewith, they now claimed greater space, desiring to have those privileges so extended as to include within their domain the vast population of the British Empire. To that hour no one had appeared before the court on the part of the defendants, prepared seriously to question the plaintiffs' assertion to the effect that literary property stood on the same precise footing, and as much demanded perpetual and universal recognition, as property in a house, a mine, a farm, or a ship. As a consequence of failure in this respect there prevailed, and most especially throughout the Eastern States, a general impression that there was really but one side to the question; that the cause of the plaintiffs was that of truth; that in the past might had triumphed over right; that, however doubtful might be the expediency of making a decree to that effect, there could be little doubt that justice would thereby be done; and that, while rejecting as wholly inexpedient the idea of perpetuity, there could be but slight objection to so far recognizing that of universality as to grant to British authors the same privileges that thus far had been accorded to our own.

Throughout those years, nevertheless, the effort to obtain from the legislative authority a decree to that effect had proved an utter failure.

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