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Old 07-24-2010, 09:46 PM   #1
banjobama
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Question about copyright/public domain

I have a question about copyright.

I'd like to make some ebooks, mainly H.P. Lovecraft's fiction and Robert E. Howard's Conan/Kull stories. Both of these authors died over 70 years ago, and the length of copyright in the US is the author's life + 70 years, right? So in theory I should be able to compile the stories into ebooks for myself and others to enjoy for free.

I know there is more to it than this, since a couple of Agatha Christie's books are now public domain and she only died in 1976. I also try to use sites like Mobileread, Manybooks.net and PG as barometers of what's allowed and what isn't, since I know I'm not going to be the first one with an idea to make an ebook out of a paper book. Lovecraft has many stories in the public domain but Howard does not seem to.

How can you tell who holds the copyright for stories and how long it lasts? Is there some way to look up that information? I started making the Lovecraft book and worst case scenario I'll just keep it for myself but I'm having fun making it and I'd like to make more but I don't want to waste my time or cause trouble somehow.
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Old 07-24-2010, 09:50 PM   #2
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Here's a good link on Public Domain and dates. Basically anything published prior to 1923 is in the Public Domain.

Copyright Terms and the Public Doman
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Old 07-24-2010, 09:55 PM   #3
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Both HPL's and REH's work are now in the public domain. Check Project Gutenberg or your favorite PG-scraping site for their (mostly) complete works.

In the case of REH, this has led to an explosion of REH pbooks from various publishers, with assorted commentary, illustrations, etc. I think I'm collecting three different series of them now, along with my old Frazetta-cover paperbacks. Plus, of course, the ebooks. Can you say "addict"?
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Old 07-24-2010, 10:02 PM   #4
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Both HPL's and REH's work are now in the public domain. Check Project Gutenberg or your favorite PG-scraping site for their (mostly) complete works.
For Howard I checked PG, Manybooks, and Google books, my usual haunts, and found next to nothing of his. Do you possibly have a link to some stuff?
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Old 07-24-2010, 11:09 PM   #5
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With Lovecraft, the situation is complicated by the fact that many of his works were collaborations. In the U.S.A. the stories Lovecraft wrote with C.M Eddy Jr after 1923 might still be in copyright: The Loved Dead, Under the Pyramids, Ashes, the Ghost Eater and Deaf, Dumb and Blind. One of Eddy's heirs certainly claims so, though for this to be true, the copyright would have had to have been renewed. AFAIK there is no evidence for copyright renewal on any of Lovecraft's works, so any claims by people like Dyer, or, more notoriously, Derleth, are probably spurious.

In the EU the situation is simpler and all works written solely by Lovecraft have been PD since Jan 2008. But those works written with collaborators mostly remain in copyright (Eddy, for instance, only died in 1967).
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Old 07-24-2010, 11:22 PM   #6
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For Howard I checked PG, Manybooks, and Google books, my usual haunts, and found next to nothing of his. Do you possibly have a link to some stuff?
There's a nice HPL collection here on Mobile Reads. Lovecraft
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Old 07-24-2010, 11:25 PM   #7
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There's a nice HPL collection here on Mobile Reads. Lovecraft
Yeah, I did see that, thank you. I have all the Lovecraft I'm interested in, I just need some Howard. It seems scarce!
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Old 07-24-2010, 11:55 PM   #8
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One resource is the Stanford web site: http://collections.stanford.edu/copy...e?forward=home.
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Old 07-25-2010, 02:06 AM   #9
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For Howard I checked PG, Manybooks, and Google books, my usual haunts, and found next to nothing of his. Do you possibly have a link to some stuff?
http://manybooks.net/authors/howardr.html
http://www.feedbooks.com/author/245
http://www.munseys.com/detail/mode/a...obert_E_Howard
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Old 07-25-2010, 02:20 AM   #10
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Dozens of Howard's works are listed at Project Gutenberg Australia, including a long list of Conan stories. His entry says he died 1936, so possibly they were all put up there before he became PD-eligible for Life+70 and no one's really bothered to move them over to regular PG in the 3 years since.
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Old 07-25-2010, 03:48 AM   #11
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Wow, don't I look stupid. I swear I'm not an idiot.

Thank you!!
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Old 07-25-2010, 03:52 AM   #12
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The Conan stories by Howard are available here, in MobileRead, in mobi and ePUB formats.
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