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Wikicommons Image - Dust Jacket

Posted: Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:36 am
by gle75
I was browsing Wikimedia Commons images and came across the book cover of the US first edition of The Catcher in the Rye. ... cover).jpg

It states that the image (drawn by artist Michael Mitchell in 1951) is in the public domain because:

"...the dust jacket was first published prior to 1978 without a valid copyright notice. The Catcher in the Rye was first published in 1951; the hardcover book itself carried a copyright notice, so its contents remain copyrighted. However, the first-edition dust jacket did not carry a separate copyright notice. According to The Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices: Chapter 2200, § 2207.1(C) at p. 15:

"A notice of copyright on the dust jacket of a book is not an acceptable notice for the book, because the dust jacket is not permanently attached to the book. Likewise, a notice appearing in a book is not an acceptable notice for the dust jacket or any material appearing on that dust jacket, even if the book refers to the jacket or material appearing on the jacket."

Keep in mind that the pre-1989 requirements for copyright notice were highly formalistic and, other than a few enumerated exceptions, required these three elements:

"The symbol © or the word 'Copyright' or the abbreviation 'Copr.' or an acceptable variant such as "(c)";
"The year of first publication for the work"; and
"The name of the copyright owner, or an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized, or a generally known alternative designation of the owner."

If just one of these elements is omitted, the work is deemed to be published without notice and is not eligible for copyright protection. Neither the year "1951" nor a copyright symbol (or any acceptable variant) appear anywhere on the dust jacket. Credits like "Jacket design by Michael Mitchell" do not meet these requirements, nor do the identifications of the publisher and author."

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published in the United States between 1925 and 1977, inclusive, without a copyright notice. "

Is this true, and can this image be regarded as public domain, even if it is just in the US. Or are Wikicommons Images unreliable?

Re: Wikicommons Image - Dust Jacket

Posted: Sun Jul 26, 2020 11:54 am
by AndyJ
Hi gle75,

Yes, the Wikimedia Commons assessment about copyright in the USA is correct and the dust cover is therefore in the public domain there. And as a result of section 12(6) of the UK's Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, it is also not protected in the UK either. Here's the text of that sub-section
(6) Where the country of origin of the work is not an EEA state and the author of the work is not a national of an EEA state, the duration of copyright is that to which the work is entitled in the country of origin, provided that does not exceed the period which would apply under subsections (2) to (5).
Some other countries (eg Germany) take a different view and provide the same level of protection as would be available if the work had originated in those countries, provided that publication occurred there within 30 days of the date of first publication in the country of origin.

Re: Wikicommons Image - Dust Jacket

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2020 7:45 pm
by gle75
Thanks for the answer!