Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Blog post: When is a published work not a publication?

When Peter Hirtle speaks, I listen. And the title of this blog post really got me curious - When is a published work not a publication? It is easy to find the crux of the matter:
...a book that has only been published abroad isn't really published for the purpose of US copyright law.
However, the implications require more thought and work. Programs that are digitizing works that might have been published abroad will need to be more diligent in determining if the work is in the public domain. The copyright status may be muddled (my word), especially if the work had its copyright status restored.

Hirtle provides a good summary of this issue, including the implications as he sees them. He also points to additional resources on this topic.

Finally, if you are trying to digitize materials that are clearly in the public domain, you may want to use an earlier cut off date than 1923 like perhaps 1868. Using Hirtle's logic, life plus 70 means that the person died in 1939. If you assume that the person lived to be 90 and that the person published his/her work at the age of 20, then works published before 1868 would be in the public domain.

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Kakih said...

Just have some questions. I read your blog. I was imprested. Just corious how much time it takes to find information to post?

Jill Hurst-Wahl said...


This blog takes varying amounts of time to update. Sometimes news items and ideas come quickly, while other times a post may require some research and editing before publishing. So it could take anywhere from 5 minutes to 30+ minutes per blog posts - it depends.