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Old 05-24-2019, 07:34 PM   #1
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copyright question for book on archive.org

There's a book on archive.org where the author died in 1993. Other books by the author are for sale from the publisher but this book is not.

What does this mean with respect to its copyright?
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Old 05-24-2019, 09:42 PM   #2
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...
What does this mean with respect to its copyright?
Absolutely nothing except that the author died too recently for any "life of the creator" trigger to come into effect.

What matters are:
where you are (what governmental jurisdiction & hence what copyright laws are applicable.)
where IA exists and what laws apply to them
who owns or owned the copyright.

If the author owned the copyright when he died then the heirs to his estate own the copyright, or have since sold it. If the copyright had been sold to a publisher at some point, then they or their assigns own it.

The US has a history of excessively complex and changing laws that make determining the copyright status of any work created since 1924 rather difficult to determine. The old 27 years + one renewal had some very strict conditions on the renewal and many works fell into public domain due to failure to renew or renew properly. Sorting out the legal trail can be difficult, leaving some works effectively orphaned since no one knows clearly whether anyone holds the rights and the commercial value is not deemed great enough to warrant the expense of a legal search.

Last edited by dwig; 05-25-2019 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 05-24-2019, 09:44 PM   #3
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Duh, I forgot to say that I'm in the US.

Last edited by lumpynose; 05-24-2019 at 09:48 PM.
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Old 05-24-2019, 09:48 PM   #4
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It's unlikely that he had any heirs or an estate. He was gay and died of AIDS and he was living on welfare.
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Old 05-25-2019, 03:43 AM   #5
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There's a huge amount of pirated material on archive.org. If the book is in the "Community Texts" area of the site, it's almost undoubtedly pirated.
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Old 05-25-2019, 03:19 PM   #6
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There's a huge amount of pirated material on archive.org. If the book is in the "Community Texts" area of the site, it's almost undoubtedly pirated.
That's where it is. It's odd that the publisher doesn't still sell it like they do his other books. Amazon and others sell it used. Maybe the publisher hasn't made enough money on the others to justify a reprint/reissue.
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Old 05-27-2019, 09:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lumpynose View Post
There's a book on archive.org where the author died in 1993. Other books by the author are for sale from the publisher but this book is not.

What does this mean with respect to its copyright?
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Duh, I forgot to say that I'm in the US.
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It's unlikely that he had any heirs or an estate. He was gay and died of AIDS and he was living on welfare.
All of his assets (including copyrights) became someone's property when he died. If there was no will, a state probate court attempted to identify a next-of-kin and if they didn't find one, the assets went to the state. Whether a person or the state got them, they may have been auctioned off as part of the estate.

The copyright is still valid and somebody owns it, so it's illegal to copy it without permission. Whether the owner is aware that he or she owns it is another question. The publisher might know what happened to the copyright if it's worth it to you to find out.
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Old 05-27-2019, 09:27 PM   #8
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... The publisher might know what happened to the copyright if it's worth it to you to find out.
Ok, thanks. All of that stuff is interesting/good to know. It's not worth it to me to find out; it looks like the publisher has passed through several hands and they only have a snail mail address and no email.
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Old 05-28-2019, 04:11 AM   #9
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Also, note that some of the titles on archive.org which would logically still be under copyright, are actually only available to *borrow* for a two-week loan under the user's registered account, not available for free download.

I would think that titles that are only available to borrow are probably considered still in copyright in the US. (only my own opinion, though.)
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Old 05-28-2019, 04:14 AM   #10
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Also, note that some of the titles on archive.org which would seem to still be under copyright, are actually only available to *borrow* for a two-week loan under the user's registered account, not available for free download.

I would think that titles that are only available to borrow are probably considered still in copyright in the US. (only my own opinion, though.)
That’s why I asked if the book was in the “Community Texts” area of the site. That’s the part of the site that allows unregulated uploads and is where the pirated stuff is.
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