§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government if they will consider measures requiring the year of publication to be made clearly distinguishable in all books printed and/or published in the United Kingdom.]
§ THE PAYMASTER GENERAL (LORD MILLS)
My Lords, we are members both of the Berne Convention and of the 872 Universal Copyright Convention—which we ratified in 1957. Under the terms of the Berne Convention we are precluded from demanding that the enjoyment of copyright should be subject to any formality. However, publishers who wish to secure copyright in those countries, including the United States, which are members of the Universal Copyright Convention and not of the Berne Convention are obliged to put the year of first publication on copies of their books. Most publications, therefore, have in fact, since 1957, borne the year of original issue accompanied by the symbol of a letter C within a circle, and the name of the copyright proprietor. Apart from making it a condition of copyright which, as I have said, is precluded by the Berne Convention, the requirement could be imposed only by legislation making omission of the information an offence, which would in the view of Her Majesty's Government be unreasonable.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, would the noble Lord be able to say how long the Convention lasts, and within what time limit, should Her Majesty's Government see fit to introduce legislation, it would be possible so to do?
§ LORD MILLS
My Lords, I am afraid I cannot give the noble Lord that information; but as the Berne Convention has been in force since 1886, I do not suppose it comes to an end quickly.