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[ No. 9.
LAWRENCE v. DANA.
ativer eid v. Kelly; objections the equit
Seuld not lege, and the can show wharesponde the no
The legal title to the copyrights is in Mrs. Wheaton or her legal representative, and the complainant claims in the first place that the same is held in trust for him as the equitable owner of the notes by virtue of the original arrangement under which the same were prepared. - Secondly, the complainant claims that the negative as well as the affirmative promise contained in the agreement in regard to the use of the notes was binding upon Mrs. Wheaton, and that both are obligatory upon her legal representative, and all others · having notice of the existence of those covenants. Barfield v. Kelly, 4 Russ. 355.
Two principal objections are taken by the respondents to the claim of the complainant that he is the equitable owner of the notes under the original arrangement. First, they deny that the proofs in the case warrant any such finding, especially as the theory is denied in the answer. Second, they contend that Mrs. Wheaton, if such was the agreement, could not legally copyright the notes, as it would show that she was but a mere licensee, and that the copyrights in that state of the case would be void on that account.
First, conclusive proof to show what was the original understanding between the parties is found in the correspondence upon the subject. Unaided by any one, the complainant prepared the notes, but with the express understanding that he would do so without any charge, and that the property of the same, so far as respected the new edition, should vest in the proprietor of the book, and that she should take out the copyright and remain, as she was, the sole and exclusive owner of the entire book. Liberal, however, as the agreement was toward the proprietor of the book, yet it did not include anything except that edition; and when the second annotated edition was prepared under a similar arrangement, as conceded by both parties, the agreement was not extended beyond that publication. Confirmation of those propositions is unnecessary, as they are not controverted by the respondents. They deny that it was agreed between the parties that the notes should ever afterward become the property of the complainant, but they do not allege nor offer any proof tending to show that his agreement with Mrs. Wheaton extended beyond the annotated editions. Tested by these indubitable facts, the rights of the parties are plain and easy to be understood. As the proprietor of the book, Mrs. Wheaton, by virtue of that arrangement, became the absolute owner of the notes as they were prepared, so far as respects the editions in question; and she also acquired therewith the right to copyright the same for the protection of the property ; but she did not acquire thereby any right or title, legal or equitable, to use the notes in a third edition of the annotated work without the consent of the complainant. Proof to support any such right or title is entirely wanting in the record, and no such right or title is set up in the answer. Sweet v. Cater, 11 Sim. 572. Such omission confirms the view that no such right or title was intended to be conveyed, and the subsequent conduct of the parties in executing the memorandum tends strongly to the same conclusion.
Second, suppose the facts to be so, then the respondents contend that the copyrights are void, because, as they insist, the applicant for the same was a mere licensee of the author of the notes ; but the court is of a different opinion for the reasons already given, as well as for others yet to be Vol. II.)
LAWRENCE v. Dana.
mentioned. Literary property, even when secured by copyright, differs in many aspects from property in personal chattels, and the tenure of the property is governed by somewhat different rules; but the difference in the nature and tenure of the property is much greater before copyright is taken out, and while the right to that protection for the same remains entirely inchoate. Title to the notes or improvements prepared for a new edition of a book previously copyrighted may, in certain cases, be acquired by the proprietor of a book from an employee, by virtue of the contract of employment, without any written assignment; and, when so acquired, the tenure of the property depends upon the terms of the contract, but it cannot be held to be a mere license where, as in this case, the contract was that the proprietor of the book should take the exclusive right to the contributions for two successive editions, together with the right to copyright the same for the protection of the property, as the inchoate right of copyright unquestionably passed to the proprietor of the book by the same arrangement. Agawam Co. v. Jordan, 7 Wall. 603 ; Fletcher v. Morey, 2 Story, 564. Such inchoate right is incapable of any other limitation than that prescribed by the copyright act, so that the proprietor of the book necessarily took out the copyright in the usual form. Beyond controversy, she took it out by the consent of the complainant; and it is equally clear, in the judgment of the court, that she took it out for the protection of her own property in the notes, and in trust for the complainant when her property in the notes should cease. Mawman v. Tegg, 2 Russ. 385 ; Little v. Gould, 2 Blatch. 365. Arrangements of the kind, it is believed, are frequently made between the proprietors of books and editors employed to prepare notes or other improvements to successive editions; and it is not perceived that there is any legal difficulty in upholding such a contract where, as in this case, it violates the rights of no one, and is entirely consistent with the public right. Fletcher et al. v. Morey, 2 Story, 566. Entered into as it was in good faith, and with a full knowledge of all the facts, it was not void ; and neither the representative of the proprietor of the book, nor any other person having notice of the same, is at liberty to repudiate it, as it appears that it was knowingly acted upon in a way that the complainant would suffer serious pecuniary injury to allow it to be disproved. Farina v. Silverlock, 39 Eng. L. & Eq. 516, Eicolt v. Bannister, 17 C. B. (N. S.) 708; Sherman v. Champlain Co. 31 Vt. 175; Cairncro88 v. Lorimer, 3 Law Times, 130. ....
Grant that the several conclusions announced by the court are correct, still the respondents insist that the complainant is not entitled to a decree, because they contend that they have not infringed the equitable right of the complainant to the exclusive use of the notes in question, nor violated the terms of the agreement as expressed in the memorandum.
Before proceeding to examine the question of infringement, it will be necessary to reproduce, as concisely as possible, some of the principal issues upon the subject as presented in the pleadings.
Statement of the complainant is that, prior to the last edition annotated by him, there was no book of international law in which all the authorities bearing upon the different questions discussed or referred to in the original work of the author, or in his antecedent annotations, were collected and presented in a convenient form for reference. Such author
LAWRENCE v. DANA.
ities as he represents consisted of judicial decisions, diplomatic discussions by distinguished diplomatists, and dissertations, treatises, and lectures of learned publicists and writers upon the law of nations; that he undertook to collect and present, and by a considerable amount of labor and intellectual exertion did collect and present, in his notes and in a convenient form, with reference to each question so discussed, the discussions and opinions as aforesaid, translating such as were in any foreign language, and giving them in full where they seemed sufficiently important to be so presented, and in other cases referring to them, giving the name of the book and the page where the passage could be found ; that many of the authorities so collected, and particularly those relating to diplomatic discussions and negotiations, and those showing the way in which cases involving principles of international law have arisen between different nations and been determined, are to be found in newspapers, gazettes, legislative debates, the series of books such as the Annual Register, and others named or referred to in the bill of complaint, not treatises on international law; that there is no book which can serve as an index or digest to assist an author in any material respect in collecting such authorities; that the number of books and papers of that nature examined by him in searching for the authorities and matters cited by him is so great that it is only possible to make such collection by devoting much attention to the subject for many years, and by making and preserving memoranda of such matters bearing upon the subject as from time to time may come to the knowledge of a person giving a large share of his attention to such matters, and reading all such books as relate to the subject, and availing himself of much intercourse with persons conversant with such matters. Corresponding statement of the respondent is that the plan of work he adopted was to take the text of the author of the book, with his notes, and annotate the same with original notes of his own, in the same manner as if they had never before been annotated; that it was no part of his plan to revise, reduce, or alter the complainant's notes, even in such manner as the law of copyright would have permitted if the complainant had had a copyright therein; but that his course was after reading a topic in the text, if he thought it required annotation, to examine all the works to which he had access bearing upon the topic, and, among others, but not more or differently than others, the contributions of the complainant. When he had made all the examination he thought necessary, the allegation is that he then gave the subject the best reflection he could, and subsequently wrote out a new and original note in every instance, in manuscript throughout, in his own hand or that of an amanuensis, and without other reference to, or assistance from, any notes of the complainant than as above stated.
The complainant also alleges that in preparing the text of his edition he exercised a considerable amount of skill and judgment in the arrangement of his annotations, and in combining and connecting them with the text, and that he prepared a complete index to the same; and he charges that the respondents, in their book, have copied, conformed to, and pirated the said annotated book and the annotations of the same which he prepared ; and that they have used and availed themselves of the said book and annotations of the said labors of the complainant. Responsive to the charge
LAWRENCE ». DANA.
that his notes are in a great part taken and copied from those of the complainant, and that he has pirated and unduly used the contributions of the complainant, the respondent totally denies the same and every part thereof. Evidence to show that the notes in the two annotated editions of Wheaton's Elements of International Law, as prepared by the complainant, involved great research and labor beyond what appears in those two works, is unnecessary, especially as the allegations in the bill of complaint to that effect are not directly denied in the answer; and it is equally obvious and clear that the results of the research and labor there exhibited could not well have been accomplished by any person other than one of great learning, reading, and experience in such studies and investigations. Such a comprehensive collection of authorities, explanations, and well considered suggestions is nowhere, in the judgment of the court, to be found in our language, unless it be in the text and notes of the author of the original work. Uncontradicted as these propositions are, it would be an. act of supererogation to add anything further in their support. Much, also, has been accomplished by the last editor of the work in the same direction, and in the collection and presentation of similar matters wholly distinct and separate from what was antecedently collected and presented by the complainant. But the review and comparison of the merits of the respective books are not matters within the province of the court, except so far as the same become necessary in order to decide the issues involved in the pleadings. Stripped of all mere form, the charge against the respondent is that he has infringed the rights of the complainant; and that question is the only one of much importance which remains to be considered. Apart from the testimony of the parties themselves, and the comparison of the books, the evidence in the case consists mainly of the testimony of the two experts, and the result of the respective comparisons made by them, of the notes and citations of authorities contained in one of the books with those of a corresponding character contained in the other, together with the opinion of each expert witness, whether the several notes and citations so examined and compared are or are not of the same character. · Though admissible in all such cases, the opinions of experts are nevertheless in their nature secondary evidence; but the comparisons made by them in this case have very much facilitated the investigations made by the court. Considerable aid has been derived from that source, and from the testimony of the parties; but the court has found it necessary to reëxamine the comparisons made by the witnesses, and to make others for themselves, in order to come to a satisfactory conclusion. Regarded as a basis to enable the court to compare one book with the other, the results given by the experts, as exhibited in their depositions, have proved to be of great service to the court in estimating the weight to be given to their respective opinions. Complicated as the facts are, the examination of the case has imposed much labor upon the judges ; but the investigation has been made with care, and continued from time to time until both are satisfied that the court is prepared to render a just decision. Like other controversies of a similar character, the issue upon the merits presents two questions, one of fact and the other of law. Stated in brief terms, the question of fact is, What use did the respondents who edited the edition in question make of the complainant's
LAWRENCE v. Dana.,
notes ? And the question of law presented, inasmuch as it is conceded that he used the same to some extent, is, Was that use allowable, or was it of a character and to such an extent that it infringed the complainant's rights ? Direct evidence upon the subject is unattainable, as the respondent states that he cannot remember nor undertake to give the authors from whom he derived any particular class of citations. Difficult though it be to make proof, still the complainant is not entitled to any decree unless he proves infringement, as alleged, to the satisfaction of the court, as the burden in that issue is always upon the party making the charge. Except that the burden is upon the complainant, the same difficulty is experienced by the respondents in their efforts to prove the affirmative allegations of the answer, and consequently both parties are obliged to rely chiefly upon a comparison of the contents of the respective books as the best evidence which either party is able to produce. Examination of the ootes contained in the respective books will show that the description given of them by one of the respondents' witnesses is quite accurate. He states to the effect that they are either statements of historical events, accounts of legislative debates, narratives of diplomatic discussions, negotiations, or correspondence, abstracts of cases in the courts or judicial tribunals of different countries, of summaries of other text writers or essayists on international law, and other kindred topics, accompanied with references to the books and documents where the matters are to be found. Such authorities and references of the kind mentioned are very numerous in the edition containing the notes of the complainant, and he contends that the respondent has made a much larger use of such notes, references, and authorities, including those collected and presented by him to illustrate particular topics of international law, than the law of copyright or the agreement between him and Mrs. Wheaton, as expressed in the memorandum, will permit. Numerous instances are given where the same topics are illustrated in the two works by reference to the same historical facts or diplomatic negotiations, and where the views expressed are supported by the citation of the same books, pamphlets, debates, and newspapers ; and the complainant contends that these coincidences occur in instances so numerous that it is past belief that they could be accidental; and he insists that the just inferences to be drawn from these coincidences, when taken in connection with the admission of the respondent that he did make some use of the complainant's book for the purposes of reference, fully sustain the burden of proof on his part, and justify the conclusion that, in each particular instance in which the citations and authorities are the same, they were in fact taken from his book, unless the respondent can explain these coincidences, or show that the citations and authorities were derived from some other quarter. Weighed as required by the rules of circumstantial evidence, the complainant contends that these coincidences of fact, as exhibited in the two books, are not only consistent with the charge of infringement, but that they, taken as a whole, are absolutely inconsistent with any other theory, which is the test usually applied in cases where proof is required beyond any reasonable doubt. Great latitude is justly allowed by the law to the reception of indirect or circumstantial evidence, the aid of which is constantly required in the administration of justice; and whenever the necessity for a resort to such evidence arises, either from