Re: All copyright renewal records now online and searchable

From: Jim Carlile (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Jul 01 2008 - 00:35:21 PDT

Just to be precise in a shifty area, I want to qualify something I said in a
previous post:

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.

Technically, there could be a problem-- though remote-- with some works
published between about 1950 and 1964. That's because the 1976 law change gave
copyright holders the right to go back and retroactively register their works
within the first 28 year period, if they hadn't done so. This law went into
effect in early 1978.
The only condition was that they originally had to have a copyright notice
on the work. Basically what this did is allow rock and roll producers to put
their old forgotten 50s stuff in copyright, if they'd neglected to do it at the
But most works followed the prevailing laws from 1950-1964, because without
that, you didn't get copyright. So it's not a major factor but it's something
to look out for with ephemera.

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