All that we have maintained with regard to Mr. Munro is that this great and good man has actually given us cheap books. The great argument in favor of international piracy always used to be that it would do this for us; but it never really did. Now, the new system of piracy has made books almost as cheap as newspapers. But we are convinced that the new pirate is unconsciously doing a great work for the cause of international copyright by proving to the publishers that in their own interest the foreign author must be protected exactly as the domestic author is. There is no way for them to meet Munro except this, and we have no doubt that they will in a few years be converts to an authors’ copyright. This is a matter of opinion, of course, about which Mr. Putnam may differ from us. But we shall continue to urge the new pirate not to falter in his noble undertaking, for we are convinced that he is a great public benefactor.
Source: Publishers Weekly, February 10, 1883: 175.
NOTE: The editor supports an international copyright act and is opposed to piracy. He argues that despite his piracy, Mr. Munro is inadvertently doing good. By stealing the works of foreign writers, which in turn creates “ruinous” competition, Munro will force publishers to support an international copyright act to protect American markets. This was an unfavorable position at the time in the publishing industry.
By the old system of pirating, the editor means that publishers have always pirated foreign books, but that they claimed to pay the writer an honorarium. While sometimes true, the editor notes that the old system never amounted to a “substantial results” for the authors (175).