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Old 11-19-2012, 04:28 AM   #1
GrannyGrump
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Copyright - posthumous publications

[groan] another copyright question.

Copyright laws in some countries seem to say (if I am understanding it, and I might not be) that a work that is published **for the first time** AFTER the author has died takes its copyright beginning from that publication date, and will go into public domain depending on that publication date, not from the death date of the author.

My question is this --- if something has been printed in a periodical BEFORE the author died, is that considered the first publication date? and if the author has been dead for 100 years, wouldn't that item be public domain?

If someone later reprints that article after the author dies, does the original text remain in public domain, or does the new editor get to claim copyright over it (it was never published in a book previously, only newspapers or magazines.)

I ask because I don't want to infringe on any legitimate copyright.

Any advice for me? I need someone to confirm if my interpretation is correct....
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Old 11-19-2012, 04:45 AM   #2
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My question is this --- if something has been printed in a periodical BEFORE the author died, is that considered the first publication date? and if the author has been dead for 100 years, wouldn't that item be public domain?
Yes, the magazine publication would be the date of initial publication, so if the author has been dead for 100 years, it should be in the public domain in "life+70" counties.
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Old 11-19-2012, 05:00 AM   #3
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Thank you Harry. I just wanted to be sure that "ephemeral" publications still counted in the great scheme of things.
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Old 11-19-2012, 06:49 AM   #4
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Certainly they do, yes.

This is actually the case with a book I'm working on at the moment - a revision of my omnibus edition of E.F. Benson's "Mapp and Lucia" stories. There was a Mapp and Lucia short story which, to the best of my knowledge, has never appeared in eBook form, which was published in "Good Housekeeping" magazine in 1929. I've scanned the story myself and will be incorporating it in the revised omnibus.
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Old 11-19-2012, 10:56 PM   #5
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This is a bit hypothetical, but what if an author writes a book, and then becomes humus?

If the author stated beforehand that they wished for no one to ever read their book but they left it lying around, would it be considered infringing to read or copy the book?

Most of the time copyrights are left to heirs, but what if they aren't? Do we still have to wait to copy the books?

If an author is dead, are we supposed to assume that the copyright has been left to an heir? Or can we assume that the work is now an orphan? If we wish to read the work of a posthumous author, are we expected to do our due diligence to determine if the copyright has been transferred to another???
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Old 11-20-2012, 05:28 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Yes, the magazine publication would be the date of initial publication, so if the author has been dead for 100 years, it should be in the public domain in "life+70" counties.
Of course, the version in the periodical might not be identical to the version published as a book. If a book version contains extra material, that extra material remains under copyright.
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Old 11-20-2012, 05:34 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Giggleton View Post
This is a bit hypothetical, but what if an author writes a book, and then becomes humus?

If the author stated beforehand that they wished for no one to ever read their book but they left it lying around, would it be considered infringing to read or copy the book?
You know the answer already. The author and the estate can keep people from copying the book, but not from reading the book that they already paid for. It's copyright, not readright.

Quote:
Most of the time copyrights are left to heirs, but what if they aren't? Do we still have to wait to copy the books?

If an author is dead, are we supposed to assume that the copyright has been left to an heir? Or can we assume that the work is now an orphan? If we wish to read the work of a posthumous author, are we expected to do our due diligence to determine if the copyright has been transferred to another???
Like any other form of property, copyright automatially goes to the heirs. If there is no will, it may have to go through probate. A work doesn't become orphaned just because the author dies. A work becomes orphaned when the copyright owner can't be found or identified.
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:30 AM   #8
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A work doesn't become orphaned just because the author dies. A work becomes orphaned when the copyright owner can't be found or identified.
Well this is interesting, let us imagine that I copy a number of different books but leave the attribution pages out, If I then leave these copies laying around somewhere would it be considered infringement if another picks them up and reads them?

If this other who picks these non attributable copies up also copies these books, is that infringing?

It sounds a bit absurd to me, which might mean that copyright is absurd.
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Old 11-21-2012, 09:28 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Giggleton View Post
Well this is interesting, let us imagine that I copy a number of different books but leave the attribution pages out, If I then leave these copies laying around somewhere would it be considered infringement if another picks them up and reads them?

If this other who picks these non attributable copies up also copies these books, is that infringing?

It sounds a bit absurd to me, which might mean that copyright is absurd.
Again, it's copyright, not readright.
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Old 11-21-2012, 11:46 AM   #10
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If this other who picks these non attributable copies up also copies these books, is that infringing?
It would depend on who owns the rights. Copy 'em all and let the court sort it out.

If a cat dies in a box and nobody opens the box...is the cat really dead?
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Old 11-21-2012, 12:07 PM   #11
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If a cat dies in a box and nobody opens the box...is the cat really dead?
Shake the box
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Old 11-21-2012, 02:24 PM   #12
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Shake the box
Is that what economists mean by "dead cat bounce"?
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Old 11-22-2012, 12:44 AM   #13
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If a cat dies in a box and nobody opens the box...is the cat really dead?
Leave the box in the sun for a week and you will have your answer.
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Old 11-22-2012, 01:40 AM   #14
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It sounds a bit absurd to me, which might mean that copyright is absurd.
Absurdities abound in many laws.

I personally find it odd that a translation of a work can be still in copyright long after the work in the original language is public domain.
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Old 11-22-2012, 02:34 AM   #15
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It's not odd at all. A translation is an independent work which has its own copyright. There would be no financial incentive to create translations if this were not the case.
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