out from the archives of the New York Times….. June 13, 1897
Publishers say they are Suffering by Copyright Violations
Taken for Redress.
“Canadian pirates” is what the music
dealers call publishing houses across the
line who are flooding this country, they say,
with spurious editions of the latest copyrighted
popular songs. They use the mails
to reach purchasers, so members of the
American Music Publishers' Association as-
sert, and as a result the legitimate music
publishing business of the United
has fallen off 50 per cent, in the past twelve
months. Their investigation has revealed
that all of the most popular pieces have
been counterfeited, despite the fact that
they are copyrighted, and by unknown publishers
are sold at from 2 cents to 5 cents
per copy. though the original compositions
sell at from 20 to 40 cents per copy.
It is estimated by the publishers that fully
5,000,000 copies of songs were printed and
Bold in the month of May.
T. B. Harms, the music publisher, said
yesterday that the American publishers
had held a conference lasting three days
last week, and a committee had been appointed
to fight the pirates. This committee
consists of Isidore Witmark, T. B. Harms, and
H. W. Gray.
It was explained that the business is
worked in Canada
in connection with newspapers
which publish lists of music to be
say, 10 cents a copy. The Post
Office box given belongs to the newspaper,
and it takes half of all the money sent as
pay for the advertising, and the other half
goes to the “pirate,” who sends the music
If the Post Office authorities stop such
mail matter because it infringes the copyright
law, it is returned to the publisher,
after thirty days, under our law, and the
only one who is out is the person who
sends the 10 cents. The Canadian law is
less lenient, as it provides for the destruction
of contraband matter sent over the line
by American violators of copyright law.
So it would appear that in1897, the pirates were in league with the Newspaper publishers, the only people that had printing presses.
It would appear that the crime of Music Piracy in 1887 was facilitated by Technology.
“Have technology, will pirate….”
Not much has changed then.