The Private Papers Of Henry Ryecroft

Gordon Neavill aa3401 at
Wed Jul 5 23:29:50 EDT 2006


The Private Papeers of Henry Ryecroft, like Green Mansions and many books by British authors published during the last quarter of the 19th century and early decades of the 20th, was not protected by U.S. copyright.  The U.S. copyright act of 1876 was the first to extended copyright protection to foreign authors, but there was a catch.  To qualify for copyright, a book had to be manufactured (printed and bound) in the U.S.  The "manufacturing clause" was slipped into the act by the printers union.  It was common for American publishers to bring out works by British authors, especially those without an assured market, by importing sheets of the British edition.  Books published this way fell irretrievably into the public domain the day they were published.  The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft was first published in the U.S. in 1903 by E.P. Dutton using sheets of the English edition. Goodbye copyright!  Other American publishers including the ML reprinted it without permission o!
r payment to the author, in the same way a publisher today would reprint Dickens or Shakespeare.  A high percentage of the titles in the B&L series were in the public domain because of the manufacturing clause.  That's why the ML included Shaw's Unsocial Socialist instead of his plays.  The plays were copyrighted in the U.S. (Shaw saw to that) but his early novel wasn't.  

Gissing must have authorized the EL edition.  I would guess that Dutton paid him a small royalty so they could promote their edition as authorized, hoping this would give it a competitive edge against the ML edition, which remained in print until 1942.  


---- Original message ----
>Date: Thu, 06 Jul 2006 02:24:13 GMT
>From: "JOSEPH HILL" <goodbooks at>  
>Subject: The Private Papers Of Henry Ryecroft  
>To: modlib at
>   I am not quite sure what it is I am asking here??
>   The ML edition of this Gissing work was first
>   published in 1918. I just purchased for resale a
>   VG/VG First EL copy (1927), published only by Dutton
>   that states, ( in very big letters)  AUTHOR'S ONLY
Gordon B. Neavill
Associate Professor
Library and Information Science Program
106 Kresge Library
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI 48202
313-577-0507 (tel); 313-577-7563 (fax)
aa3401 at

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