Gilbert's Letter to The Times of 2 January 1888
Issue 32271, pg. 12 col B


International Copyright


Sir,--In an article on international copyright in The Times of the 31st of December, your correspondent states that I, as a dramatist, can obtain copyright while it is denied to Lord Tennyson as a poet. Allow me to assure your correspondent that he is entirely mistaken. No alien author, be he poet, novelist, essayist, or dramatist, has any copyright whatever in any published work in the United States. As the American Copyright Act is silent as to unpublished works, a few American Judges have held that, so long as the book of a play is not publicly sold, the author has a common law property in his work, even though it has been presented to the public on the boards of a theatre. This liberal view of the question has been rejected by other Judges, and the matter is still undecided.

As a matter of fact, my supposed rights have not brought me a penny from the United States for many years. Such moneys as I have received have been the produce of private ventures with which questions of copyright have had nothing to do.

Your obedient servant,

London, Jan. 1.
W.S. GILBERT
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