1915: Rudyard Kipling vs New Zealand Government
January 14, 2019
Today in history: 14 January, Macmillan and Co. (publishers,) representing British literary giant Rudyard Kipling put the hard word on the New Zealand Government for ripping the author off!
Kipling was The great exponent of British Empire Dignity Culture. He literally wrote the book (poem) on the White Man’s burden. His Jungle Book formed a template used in world-wide Scouting, still employed today. Has been made into top feature film two times in as many years (2018, 2018.) Wonderful in very many ways, I do object to Kipling’s aligning his promotion of noble humanity with The State as was made very clear in The Man Who Would Be King (a message for our James Busby?)
Another of his best works, If, was blatantly reproduced in full without the author’s permission by the School Journal. Team Kipling went to war over break of copyright to which the The State, New Zealand Inc., rolled out its chief wizard to make an amazingly self-entitled claim to being above the law…
“The Copyright Act 1913 does not bind the Crown, and the New Zealand Government would be at liberty, if it chose, to reprint the whole of Mr Kipling’s works without committing any breach of copyright or being liable to him in any way”. – Solicitor General, NZ
Team Kipling replied with a measured yet strong suggestion that the NZ State come out with its hands up; Pay up and desist. We don’t know what happened next. But judging from the dust cloud kicked up by the scuffle it seems New Zealand Inc. backed down because they were better behaved in future. No more ripping off artists’ work as if the New Zealand Government owned everything.
If you can write a classic and great poem,
If a distant state’s education publishing organ steals it, and,
If you can watch the things you gave your life to, published without consent,
And stoop to litigate:
Then New Zealand Inc. will provoke and be your foe!
And, which is more, you’ll be Rudyard Kipling,
(Or his legal representative) My son!
Ref. Letter regarding the publication of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’ in New Zealand School Journal, 1914; Archives NZ