Magazine copyright query (an easy one, I hope!)

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darinfan
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Magazine copyright query (an easy one, I hope!)

Post by darinfan » Mon Feb 09, 2015 2:32 am

Hi. Great and useful site. I just want to run something by you folks so you can verify that I am correct in my assumption.

I live in the UK, and have a collection of American magazines from the late 1920s. I have got verification that the copyright was not renewed on them and they are now in the public domain.

My question is that are they just in the public domain in their original state (as in original layout), or are all elements of the magazine in the public domain?

In other words, can articles from them be re-typed and put into book form in an edited collection if the magazine they were written for is in the public domain? I'm pretty certain the answer is yes, but sometimes these things go around in your head and you convince yourself you are wrong!

Thanks for any advice. [/b]

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Mon Feb 09, 2015 10:19 am

Hi darinfan,
Yes you are right, if the whole magazine is in the public domain then you can re-use the individual articles. There are two special cases worth noting:
  • 1. In theory some individual articles might have been registered and re-registered by their respective authors, so there is an outside possibility that the odd article is still in copyright, although this seems highly unlikely. The kind of instance where this might have occurred would be a piece by a famous freelance writer, say of short stories, who allowed the magazine to publish one of his stories. However if the magazine containing the article did not display a valid copyright notice, either for the complete magazine or for the specific article, ("© 1928 Mammoth Publishing Corp; Main featured article 'The Modern World' © 1927 John Doe"), then neither would now be protected. You can check with the US Copyright Office's database of registered works, but be aware that the online index is not complete.
    2. If the author was a foreign national not domiciled in the US and the article was published in the US more than 30 days after its first publication outside the US, without compliance with US formalities (ie no copyright notice and no registration), and was not in the public domain in its home country as of 1 January 1996, then the copyright term is 95 years from the date of first publication. Again this special case is highly unlikely to apply unless the magazines were syndicated versions of foreign titles, or fairly high profile ones such as Vanity Fair or the New Yorker.
Furthermore, under US law there are no moral rights associated with the articles, so you are not obliged to credit the original authors.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

darinfan
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Post by darinfan » Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:55 pm

Thank you for your help. That clears things up nicely.

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