47 Glencairn Ave.
[21 Mar. 1957]

My dear Ralph:

I am sorry that you have struck this snag as your troubles with publishers have been many and complicated.

I have not been able to locate the contract but I assumed that the possession of copyright gave the owner the right to dispose of the contents as he wished, but apparently it isn't so. I have a vague recollection that, as far as American anthologies are concerned, Knopf offered to collect the fees for the selections and pass them on to me. This happened in only a few instances. The selections were brief and Knopf promptly handed the amounts to me. I think $10.00 was usual, but it is years since I have heard from the Firm. A.J.M. Smith's anthology was published before the Knopf negotiations were made, hence he had to deal only with the Canadian Macmillans. In both cases the royalties and permission costs were given to me, though Macmillans (legally, I imagine) might have retained the income.

There are two possibilities here:
  1. The Penguin selections could be abbreviated, for at present they are very generous.

  2. I should be very happy indeed to go 50 – 50 on the permission costs with Penguin and for that matter with Macmillans too, for I appreciate the extent of those publishing rivalries. (This would be confidential of course.) Macmillans' deduction is 10% for collection.

I realize the delicacy of this situation for you but please accept No 2 if it helps out. After all something should be written off for publicity, and you have been a peach throughout all our relationships (overlook the possible mixture of metaphor here).

If there is anything further to clear up, don't hesitate to ask me. The mere getting of a letter from you is worth a lot.

Bless you,
Ned
E. J. Pratt


snag
Gustafson had written him on 19 March enclosing a letter from Alfred A. Knopf which stated that the firm considered itself the holder of the American copyright to all of Pratt's poems published in the American edition of his Collected Poems. Gustafson commented: 'In the light of their definition, author's copyright becomes meaningless.'