Dug out from the archives of the New York Times….. June 13, 1897 NYTimes
American Publishers say they are Suffering by Copyright Violations
There-Steps 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 assert, and as a result the legitimate music publishing business of the United States 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.
The crime of Music Piracy in 1887 was facilitated by Technology.
Supplied at the time by the leading paragons of business, the Newspaper Publishers, who it appears used the money to grow their businesses.
“Have technology, will pirate….”
Not much has changed then.