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Wondering if this Author's work is still copyrighted

 
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Euceil
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:56 pm    Post subject: Wondering if this Author's work is still copyrighted Reply with quote

Eustace_Miles is the author.

In the united states his work is not under copyright law and in the public domain, I want to publish his work from North America but I am not sure if I have to limit distribution to the UK because of the Author's life + 70 meaning his work only goes in the public domain in 2018. The problem is I have gone on Amazon.co.uk and I see his work being sold in the UK under various different publishers, so from I see maybe the work is not copyrighted in the UK?

I am confused would appreciate some help.
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AndyJ
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,
It's hard to advise you without specific details of the works you want to publish. As you indicate, Eustace Miles died in 1948 and as he was British, any of his work which was created* in the UK would, under normal circumstances, remain in copyright until the end of 2012.
When you say that his work published in the US is now in the public domain, I suspect this is because at the time he was writing, copyright had to be registered in the US and then had to be re-registered within the first 28 years up to a total of 56 years. If either of these things was not done, then copyright in the US could have lapsed some time ago. And at that time in that US, the lifetime of the author was not a factor in determining the term of the copyright.
But assuming the same works were also published* here in the UK, where there were no such registration requirements, then the actual writings would still be in copyright here.
The fact that Amazon are selling editions from several different publishers may well be because in UK law the copyright in a printed edition only last for 25 years from publication, which then allows the copyright holder (either Miles himself during his lifetime, or his heirs after his death) to then give permission to another publisher to publish a new edition.
I think your best bet would be to try and track down the current copyright holder and see if you can also get permission to publish the works you are interested in. A good starting point for getting details of the current rights owner might be the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society



*Strictly speaking, for UK copyright to apply, the work(s) only needs to be fixed in some permanent form, and not actually published, assuming the author is a British subject, as was the case with Miles.
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Euceil
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the clarification, since he died in 1948 his works would still be copyrighted until 2018.

Some of the books I wanted to publish are:
-Fitness for Play and Work (1911)
-How to remember (1901)
-The Power of Concentration (1907)
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AndyJ
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the update on the particular publications you are interested in. I assume that those are the dates of publication in the US, and if so, this confirms my earlier analysis of why those particular editions are now in the public domain there, especially as two of them precede the 1909 US Copyright Act.
If you were only intending to publish in the US, on the information you have provided, I think it would be safe for you to re-publish these books without any problem. However there still remains a problem with publishing them in the UK (or indeed elsewhere within the EU) unless you manage to obtain the permission of the current copyright owner. Given the fact that these tracts are over 100 years old, I'm sure any request you make will be looked on favourably, since you are seeking to keep them alive, presumably for their historical interest as much as anything else.
It is worth mentioning that if after you have conducted a reasonably diligent search for the current owners of the copyright but failed to identify them, you may nonetheless be able to obtain a licence to re-publish these works through the ALCS, which I referred to previously. At the very least they should be able to give you more advice on how to proceed.
Good luck with your project.
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