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Old 10-28-2013, 09:50 PM   #1
bobcdy
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Still another copyright question

Recently I purchased a retail epub of an old sci-fi novel of which I have the original 1948 paper reprint book edition. The text of the book was first published in 1920 in a sci-fi magazine. The retail epub has used 1948 images from the reprint book whose publisher is no longer in existence, and the retail epub publisher claims they have been unable to find the author's/illustrator's copyright heirs.

There are numerous OCR errors, split paragraphs, lack of italics, poor formatting, and other problems with the retail epub version - all of which offend me when I try to read it.

I would like to use the retail epub text (that saves me scanning the book and possibly damaging the spine), correct it with new formatting, omit any new original material such as cover image/book synopsis/author info etc, and combine this material with additional material from my paper book to produce my own epub copy that will include illustrations and dustcover text of the 1948 version.

The text of the legal epub is almost certainly PD because it was published in 1920. My new self-produced epub may violate copyrights of the 1948 edition although I suppose I could claim being unable to find copyright heirs as is claimed by the new publisher.

This new epub will be solely for my own use; does anyone know if it is likely to violate any copyrights of the newly published retail epub? Perhaps my new epub won't violate either the new epub or the 1948 book copyrights if the copyright heirs can't be located (?)
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Old 10-29-2013, 04:29 AM   #2
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This new epub will be solely for my own use; does anyone know if it is likely to violate any copyrights of the newly published retail epub? Perhaps my new epub won't violate either the new epub or the 1948 book copyrights if the copyright heirs can't be located (?)
If it's for private use, you should not be worried by any kind of copyright. In some (many?) countries this is the case even if you share it with friends and family (as long as you don't charge any money).
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Old 10-29-2013, 11:02 AM   #3
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Disaclaimer - I Am Not A Lawyer (IANAL)

If your text follows the 1920 text, assuming there was text modified in the 1948 version (I don't know, not enough facts), and you reside in the US, then yes, you can use the text and fix it up. A reprint of PD text cannot be recopyrighted, only the unique materials added (if any).

Now if the text was changed, then that version can still be under copyright.

You can use any illustrations from 1922 or before without problems.
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Old 10-31-2013, 12:42 AM   #4
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As far as I know the 1948 text is the same as the 1920 (the retail epub assumes so - I'm certain they did not use the hard-to-find 1920 magazine text). The images that the retail epub used are those from the 1948 book that they claim is ok because they couldn't find heirs to copyrights and the 1948 publisher no longer exists. I'd like to put my version on Internet archives but I think that would be legally questionable because I don't know about heirs of the 1948 publishing company if there are any, nor of the artist's and author's heirs despite the retail epub publisher's claim.

Thanks Jelly and Ralph Sir Edward for the info esp about the common right to make modified copies for myself and friends.
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Old 11-02-2013, 11:05 AM   #5
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"Not being able to find heirs to copyright" is not a valid reason for copyright infringement, if it is evident that this work is protected by copyright.

If the illustrations were created in 1948. then they are assuredly protected by copyright in countries with a "life+70" copyright law.
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Old 11-02-2013, 01:34 PM   #6
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"Not being able to find heirs to copyright" is not a valid reason for copyright infringement, if it is evident that this work is protected by copyright.

If the illustrations were created in 1948. then they are assuredly protected by copyright in countries with a "life+70" copyright law.
Why is it not valid? Can you give an example of a reason that is valid?
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Old 11-02-2013, 03:41 PM   #7
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Orphan works are a HUGE problem: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orphan_works

Legally, it is a huge minefield.... and there are many works which are currently lost in the abyss.

Nobody knows who the copyright owners are, no one knows if the copyrights were renewed or not, you cannot find the copyright owner, so you do not know who to pay royalties to or even ASK. No one can legally be certain if the work is in the Public Domain or not.

To be safe, most publishers (and boards such as MobileRead) have to err on the extreme side of caution, and strictly enforce the rules on such works (Life+70 in most cases).

SOME publishers (such as the one that reprinted this 1948 edition without knowing who the copyright owner is) will print the work anyway and take their chances. They have the potential to be charged huge fines if a copyright owner comes forward.
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Old 11-04-2013, 07:39 AM   #8
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The publisher can come forward sometimes and claim the copyright, among other possibilities.

In the US, Google has published as one gigantic file all the renewals from 1950-1970 which answers most of these questions. After that the Library of Congress database answers.

But in other countries, the story is different.
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Old 11-04-2013, 07:51 AM   #9
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The situation is an awful lot easier in other countries; the only thing that matters is the date of death of the author.
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Old 11-04-2013, 12:06 PM   #10
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The situation is an awful lot easier in other countries; the only thing that matters is the date of death of the author.
Unless, of course, you actually want to publish the book before that time. You still need permission which means finding the copyright owner. And you still have the problem of finding the illustrator if necessary. If you don't want to publish the book then it is always easy. Just say no!

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Old 11-05-2013, 10:53 AM   #11
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As I understand it in some countries, registration is not required. This makes it difficult to impossible to publish anything before 70 years as Dale noted, unless the author is easy to locate.
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Old 11-05-2013, 11:21 AM   #12
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As I understand it in some countries, registration is not required. This makes it difficult to impossible to publish anything before 70 years as Dale noted, unless the author is easy to locate.
Copyright registration is not required in ANY country which is a signatory to the international Berne copyright convention. Copyright automatically exists as soon as the work is created.
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Old 11-06-2013, 07:56 AM   #13
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What you say is true, but there is a difference in the US.

According to wikipedia(which I acknowledge as far from the last word on anything),

For works created in the US by US citizens, a registration is also required before an infringement suit may be filed in a US court. Furthermore, copyright holders cannot claim statutory damages or attorney's fees unless the work was registered prior to infringement, or within three months of publication.

That is a significant difference, since it would seem an uphill battle to stop infringement otherwise.

Here in the U. S. if the case isn't worth $10,000, it can cost more to litigate than you could gain.
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Old 11-06-2013, 09:11 AM   #14
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What you say is true, but there is a difference in the US.

According to wikipedia(which I acknowledge as far from the last word on anything),

For works created in the US by US citizens, a registration is also required before an infringement suit may be filed in a US court. Furthermore, copyright holders cannot claim statutory damages or attorney's fees unless the work was registered prior to infringement, or within three months of publication.

That is a significant difference, since it would seem an uphill battle to stop infringement otherwise.

Here in the U. S. if the case isn't worth $10,000, it can cost more to litigate than you could gain.
You can register at the time you wish to bring a lawsuit; my point was that registration is not required in order for the copyright to exist - it's merely a part of the legal process for copyright litigation in the US.
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Old 11-08-2013, 01:27 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by mrmikel View Post
What you say is true, but there is a difference in the US.

According to wikipedia(which I acknowledge as far from the last word on anything),

For works created in the US by US citizens, a registration is also required before an infringement suit may be filed in a US court. Furthermore, copyright holders cannot claim statutory damages or attorney's fees unless the work was registered prior to infringement, or within three months of publication.

That is a significant difference, since it would seem an uphill battle to stop infringement otherwise.
In this instance, Wikipedia is correct. To collect damages, you need to have registered the work. Without it, the lawsuit will effectively bring you nothing but the cost of having brought it and a C&D (Cease and Desist) order.

Quote:
Here in the U. S. if the case isn't worth $10,000, it can cost more to litigate than you could gain.
Make that $50K for any real case. A small-claims or justice court case, maybe (under $10K), but no case on the planet will cost you less than $50K to prosecute, including the legal fees, discovery, disclosure and everything else you need before you walk in the doors of the courtroom, for the actual trial--which will cost you at least another $20K or more.

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