Petition Concerning CopyrightShort Story by Mark Twain
TO THE HONORABLE THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES IN CONGRESS ASSEMBLED:
Whereas, The Constitution guarantees equal rights to all, backed by the Declaration of Independence; and
Whereas, Under our laws, the right of property in real estate is perpetual; and
Whereas, Under our laws, the right of property in the literary result of a citizen's intellectual labor is restricted to forty-two years; and
Whereas, Forty-two years seems an exceedingly just and righteous term, and a sufficiently long one for the retention of property;
Therefore, Your petitioner, having the good of his country solely at heart, humbly prays that "equal rights" and fair and equal treatment may be meted out to all citizens, by the restriction of rights in all property, real estate included, to the beneficent term of forty-two years. Then shall all men bless your honorable body and be happy. And for this will your petitioner ever pray.
A PARAGRAPH NOT ADDED TO THE PETITION
The charming absurdity of restricting property-rights in books to forty-two years sticks prominently out in the fact that hardly any man's books ever live forty-two years, or even the half of it; and so, for the sake of getting a shabby advantage of the heirs of about one Scott or Burns or Milton in a hundred years, the lawmakers of the "Great" Republic are content to leave that poor little pilfering edict upon the statute-books. It is like an emperor lying in wait to rob a Phenix's nest, and waiting the necessary century to get the chance.