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Quick Facts About Public Domain Works

Here are some quick facts that you should know about the copyright laws applying to the public domain. Note: These laws apply to works published in the US. For unpublished works and for works published outside the US, see the resources listed later on. · Any works published (with or without copyright) before 1923 are in the public domain. · Any works copyrighted in 1923 or later (with their copyrights renewed in time) will stay OUT of the public domain till 2018 or longer. This is due to a 20-year copyright extension enacted in the US in 1998.

Usually you can check on the book itself the copyright date, and if a copyright is renewed, that date is also placed on the book. · Certain works copyrighted in 1923 or later may have already entered the public domain because of certain legal constraints. The following types of works o Works published in the US before 1989 without proper copyright notice and o Works published in the US before 1964 whose copyrights were not renewed · Works from 1923 or later that were originally published in countries outside the US may still be copyrighted regardless of whether they were printed with proper notice or renewed. · Works that were never registered for copyright prior to 1978, and were never published prior to 2003, are now in the Public Domain in the US if: o The author(s) died more than 70 years ago before the most recent New Year’s Day. For 2005, this means authors who died before 1935.

For more than one author, this applies to the last surviving author. This is just a quick overview of the copyright law to help you understand what you will be dealing with when venturing into the public domain. There are other people who have written comprehensively on this matter – one such resource is from the Cornell Copyright Center: http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/training/Hirtle Public Domain.htm That contains a detailed and comprehensive table that tells you how the copyright law and the public domain applies to unpublished works, works published in the US and even works published outside the US. It is a truly remarkable and useful resource to have for a public domain businesses. Another brilliant (an understatement at best) resource is by the law firm Bromberg & Sunstein: http://www.bromsun.

com/practice/copyrights/copyright durations.html .


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