From: Jim Carlile (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Jul 01 2008 - 15:04:14 PDT
In a message dated 7/1/2008 8:26:39 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time,
email suppressed writes:
Jim Carlile's statement quoted below pertains to works published by a U.S.
company. Foreign books, say by an English publisher, that lack copyright
notices but find their way into U.S. libraries, collections, etc., are not
PD, at least not necessarily. That might seem hardly to require mention, but
English and American companies often had (and still do have) similar names,
even when completely independent of one another. And sometimes the same
plates were reused cross-Pond, or co-editions were issued. So the issue of
PD can sometimes become difficult to determine without very thorough
You're totally right. British copyright law has long been based upon life
plus a certain number of years. Sometimes that helps American usage, sometimes
it doesn't. American recognition of British copyright is also based upon if or
if not simultaneous publication occurred here, too.
In many cases a British-authored book is still in copyright even though the
American version long lapsed. This happens when the British author lived a
long life and died well into the 20th Century. Bertrand Russell is a good
example. So is Shaw.
British copyright ends in 1911-- before that time everything is in the
public domain. Whereas we have 1923 as a cutoff date, theirs goes back to 1911.
Which can mean that a book written by a British author in say 1916 often cannot
be made available to Britain or the rest of Europe.
Reconciling American and British copyright status can be a certain road to
madness. In 1996, the U.K actually put many works back into copyright, if any
European copyright claims were still in existence that year.
Sometimes British law helps the American public domain-- Chesterton is a
good example-- he died in the 30's when the copyright law was life plus
something like seven years. His stuff went into British PD well before the American
versions, even before renewal here.
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