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

sold at,
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

by mail.

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.





“Music Pirates in Canada”


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