Re: All copyright renewal records now online and searchable

From: Jim Carlile (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Jun 30 2008 - 19:30:45 PDT

Having long researched the copyright status of scores of old film and
photography books and journals, I'm amazed at the fact that so many (most) works
pre-1964 are NOT in copyright any more-- and some never were in the first place,
 particularly foreign works that sought U.S. protection.
I won't go into it all right now, but in a nutshell:
1) Pre-1964 works are easy to verify. They had to be copyrighted
originally-- correctly-- and then renewed the exact year they were due, in order to
continue protection. If they were not, they are in the public domain. There are
no if, ands or buts.
2) The burden of proof is on the part of the alleged holder of the
copyright, not the possible "infringer."
3) Establishing standing or ownership of a copyright is incredibly difficult
for most 'plaintiffs' to do for pre- 64 works. The evidence trail has long
dried up, no matter what the grandkid, lawyer, or "literary executor" wants to
3) The Copyright Office's web page about renewal is incredibly inaccurate,
and makes it seem like protection is afforded merely by a copyright symbol or a
 notice on pre- 64 works.
4) Many foreign works that thought they were in American copyright pre-1970
are not, because they violated the then legal requirement that ALL books and
journals be published in the U.S. of American manufacture, including the
printing plates.
5) Many registrations lacked the accompanying 2-copy deposits that were
6) In general, it's a myth that copyright status is difficult to verify, or
that "you're taking a chance, etc." if you dare claim that an older work is
in the PD. In fact, most of these fears are pure propaganda, designed to scare
people into leaving someone else's phony property claims alone.
One thing though-- the new Google database should not be totally relied upon
right now-- better verify it with he hard copies of the renewal records.
Also, somewhere the specific year-by year copyright laws are on the web--- THESE
are the criteria by which copyright was granted for those years, not the
claims of some property attorney somewhere.
The older copyright laws were VERY stringent with many conditions and it is
amazing to see how many people failed to comply with them and thus completely
voided their claims from day one.
Also, the newer NAFTA "extensions" that put some foreign PD works back into
copyright-- supposedly-- have never been tested in Court and they seriously
conflict with not just US law but the Constitution as well regarding "limited
terms."-- AFAIK there has never been a court decision that allows a work to be
 removed from the PD.
In a message dated 6/30/2008 10:11:36 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time,
email suppressed writes:

My understanding had been that in the U.S. you automatically have copyright
to your own work. The problem is proving it...if you don't register.

On 6/30/08 8:10 AM, "Freya" <email suppressed> wrote:

>> None of these resources are complete, and none list works
>> of non-US origin. And copyright status of a work depends
>> on many factors, including manner of publication and
>> presence or absence of a copyright notice in legal form.
> The U.S. has a very different copyright history to the rest of the world.
> Here in Europe for example it's long been the case that copyright is yours
> when you make the work and you didn't have to register or renew the
> Until the U.S. joined the berne convention it was all messier and fuzzier
> that and even since joining there are legal concessions to try and justify
> existance of the U.S. copyright office.
> Works outside of the U.S. aren't registered and don't need to be in order
> be protected (same with modern U.S. works). Best to assume that non-US
> are covered by the Berne convention.
> Hope that helps. I would go into detail, but as usual lately I'm in the
> of being somewhere else. ;)
> love
> Freya
> __________________________________________________________________
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

**************Gas prices getting you down? Search AOL Autos for
fuel-efficient used cars. (

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.