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Old 08-05-2019, 12:58 PM   #1
j.p.s
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(US specific) 80% of books published 1924-63 allegedly in public domain

archive.org has a human readable list of copyright registrations.

The NY Public Library encoded the list into XML. Data mining revealed 80% of the copyrights were never renewed.

https://boingboing.net/2019/08/01/80...postthumbnails
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Old 08-05-2019, 02:39 PM   #2
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Hum, well that's interesting. It's not all that surprising if it turns out to the case. At one time, the vast majority of books made all their money in the first several months of publishing. I would suspect that very few books on a percentage basis made money after the first year. I guess we will see.
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Old 08-05-2019, 04:28 PM   #3
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Yeah, matching up the free form typings of different inexperienced clerks 28 years apart has got to be a challenge, even without considering typographic and OCR errors.
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Old 08-05-2019, 06:35 PM   #4
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Going through the list for fifteen minutes or so, I didn't find any that jumped out as award winners or best sellers. But I did find this one where Amazon (or the publisher) is charging $4.99 for the eBook:

Quote:
Secretly Public Domain @SecretlyPublicDomain@botsin.space
Registration #A250452 - 1956-02-20
Title: Aldo Icardi, American master spy.
Author: ICARDI, ALDO
Claimants: Aldo Icardi
No renewal record found.
https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/
Kindle Edition

So what happens now? Is the act of having proofread for digitization copyrightable? Or is the eBook completely public domain?
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Old 08-05-2019, 09:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveEisenberg View Post
So what happens now? Is the act of having proofread for digitization copyrightable? Or is the eBook completely public domain?
The book itself can be copied, the version that is at Amazon as a whole cannot unless you remove all additional notes and clarifications. How much you would have to remove is anybody's guess. Definitely not as simple as PG, where all you need to remove is the Gutenberg notice at the beginning.
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Old 08-05-2019, 10:38 PM   #6
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I'm not sure how books work, but in the world of piano sheet music, there is a copyright for the music, and one for the editing/publishing of it. Or at least that's the way I understand it.

e.g., All music written by Frédéric Chopin is public domain. He is long dead. His compositions are public domain. However, a copy of it that was edited and printed within the most recent decades is not public domain (unless the editor/publisher releases it that way). You are free to look at Chopin's compositions and edit/print your own. Which is what sites like "The Mutopia Project" have done. Individuals on that site take public domain music, edit it and create printable versions, and release those free for everyone to use.

https://www.mutopiaproject.org/

Compositions are VERY professionally laid out on Mutopia:

Example (one of my favorites to play):

https://www.mutopiaproject.org/ftp/C...t_minor-a4.pdf

I would assume books are similar to music. You have a copyright for the original manuscript, and then a separate copyright for the editing/publishing step.
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Old 08-05-2019, 10:38 PM   #7
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For what it's worth, I was looking at a science fiction novel written around 1952, which was at least partially serialized in an SF magazine (perhaps expanded for the novel), and was recently reprinted by Open Road Media. The various paper reprints for the novel over the last 6 decades claimed all sorts of copyright and copyright renewal dates, none of which I was unable to verify, and I tried sending an email asking the agent for the estate whether s/he could point me to the actual renewal records. I ended up getting a snippy reply from either the agent or someone at ORM (I forget which) who assured me that the heirs had paid the copyright office to confirm that there was a legitimate renewal even though I was never able to find one online. Since I was looking at this as a potential contribution to Project Gutenberg, I thanked them for their answer, assured them that I had no interest in pursuing something that could end up causing legal issues for PG, and pointed out a couple of potential places where the book was being treated as a copyright non-renewal, and dropped the matter.

Anyway, it's possible that either they were blowing me off, or that for one reason or another, the easily available renewal notifications were insufficient to identify whether copyright had lapsed. My personal suspicion is that works that are serialized in a magazine and then printed in novel form may end up with one or the other with copyright renewed, which makes the renewal search harder. It's my recollection that Project Gutenberg pulled at least one of their projects because the original story published in a magazine under a different name, was renewed, even though the novel was not explicitly renewed, but as a derivative work, the novel remained under copyright. Since I am not a copyright lawyer, I'll leave that sort of stuff to others, but I will have to say that based on my experiences, there may be more out there that's still in copyright even though the initial check of the copyright renewal databases don't show it.

Last edited by bgalbrecht; 08-05-2019 at 10:41 PM.
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Old 08-05-2019, 10:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DuckieTigger View Post
The book itself can be copied, the version that is at Amazon as a whole cannot unless you remove all additional notes and clarifications.
I downloaded the substantial free sample. They claim a 2017 copyright, saying in the notice that "some additional notes and clarifications have been added for the modern reader's benefit." However, skimming through the sample, I couldn't find anything that looked like a footnote. So I'm wondering if there was a good faith effort to produce a enhanced version, or just a de minimis effort to guard against someone appropriating their proofreading job.

Usually, a really enhanced modern version of a classic will have a new introduction. None in this one.
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Old 08-05-2019, 11:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveEisenberg View Post
I downloaded the substantial free sample. They claim a 2017 copyright, saying in the notice that "some additional notes and clarifications have been added for the modern reader's benefit." However, skimming through the sample, I couldn't find anything that looked like a footnote. So I'm wondering if there was a good faith effort to produce a enhanced version, or just a de minimis effort to guard against someone appropriating their proofreading job.

Usually, a really enhanced modern version of a classic will have a new introduction. None in this one.
That is why I said it is anybody's guess. They don't have to make their notes stand out like a sore thumb. They also say that in most cases they retained original spelling and grammar, which means that they DO change both on occasion. Whether the modernizing changes intentionally or non intentionally qualify as derivative work is unclear unless you compare it to the original.
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Old 08-06-2019, 09:20 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bgalbrecht View Post
For what it's worth, I was looking at a science fiction novel written around 1952, which was at least partially serialized in an SF magazine (perhaps expanded for the novel), and was recently reprinted by Open Road Media. The various paper reprints for the novel over the last 6 decades claimed all sorts of copyright and copyright renewal dates, none of which I was unable to verify, and I tried sending an email asking the agent for the estate whether s/he could point me to the actual renewal records. I ended up getting a snippy reply from either the agent or someone at ORM (I forget which) who assured me that the heirs had paid the copyright office to confirm that there was a legitimate renewal even though I was never able to find one online. Since I was looking at this as a potential contribution to Project Gutenberg, I thanked them for their answer, assured them that I had no interest in pursuing something that could end up causing legal issues for PG, and pointed out a couple of potential places where the book was being treated as a copyright non-renewal, and dropped the matter.

Anyway, it's possible that either they were blowing me off, or that for one reason or another, the easily available renewal notifications were insufficient to identify whether copyright had lapsed. My personal suspicion is that works that are serialized in a magazine and then printed in novel form may end up with one or the other with copyright renewed, which makes the renewal search harder. It's my recollection that Project Gutenberg pulled at least one of their projects because the original story published in a magazine under a different name, was renewed, even though the novel was not explicitly renewed, but as a derivative work, the novel remained under copyright. Since I am not a copyright lawyer, I'll leave that sort of stuff to others, but I will have to say that based on my experiences, there may be more out there that's still in copyright even though the initial check of the copyright renewal databases don't show it.
Robert Heinlein's book "Beyond This Horizon" seems to have the same issue. It was originally published in two parts in a magazine under his "Anson MacDonald" pseudonym. A few years later, it was published as a novel with added material. As far as I can tell, the original was never renewed, only the novel version.

If anyone can find information to refute this, it would be welcome!

Shari
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Old 08-06-2019, 10:41 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shalym View Post
Robert Heinlein's book "Beyond This Horizon" seems to have the same issue. It was originally published in two parts in a magazine under his "Anson MacDonald" pseudonym. A few years later, it was published as a novel with added material. As far as I can tell, the original was never renewed, only the novel version.

If anyone can find information to refute this, it would be welcome!

Shari
The serial was renewed. The numbers are R462341-462342.

Quote:
Beyond this horizon. (In Astounding
science fiction. Apr.-May 1942)
20Mar42, B535871; 17Apr42,
B540404. Robert A. Heinlein (A);
26May69; R462341-462342.
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Old 08-06-2019, 11:38 AM   #12
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The serial was renewed. The numbers are R462341-462342.

Greg
Thanks!

Shari
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Old 08-06-2019, 12:55 PM   #13
gweeks
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Thanks!

Shari
The only Heinlein that I know of that's PD in the US is Heil! (Successful Operation) as a short in Futuria Fantasia April 1940 where FF was published without a copyright notice.

https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/41651

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Old 08-10-2019, 04:59 PM   #14
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Yes, US specific, in the rest of the world, EU, the same book is still life of author+70 years...
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Old 08-11-2019, 12:50 PM   #15
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That article has a bunch of links. Where's the easiest place to search this database?

It would be lovely if Lud-in-the-mist could finally escape copyright hell.
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