Copyright Help: Post-1922 Books PD in Europe, But Not US?

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Nullifidian
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Post by Nullifidian » May 22nd, 2011, 7:44 pm

I'm having a hard time figuring out if books that are already PD in their native countries and original languages are still under copyright in the U.S. The book I'm thinking of particularly is Radetzkymarsch by Joseph Roth, which was published originally in 1932, and is out of copyright in Germany because Roth died in 1939. It's available at PG's German site, and also available as a free Kindle edition through Amazon's U.S. site (in German, of course). That's what makes me curious. I wouldn't think an institution like Amazon would risk making Roth's novel freely available to readers if it were not already public domain according to U.S. law too.

I did see one copyright entry for 1932 on a Google Books scan, but no copyright renewal for the German text, and the only other mention I found of it was for the English translation published by Viking in 1961.

This really isn't a pressing issue, just something I was wondering about. I have tried to follow some of the more tangled areas of copyright law, and I'm afraid I just end up getting confused. I suspect I would have to invest in law school for this to begin to make sense, and I was wondering if anyone out there was any less confused than I am. :D

chocoholic
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Post by chocoholic » May 22nd, 2011, 8:53 pm

International copyright law is beyond me too, but when I have gone on the hunt for this sort of thing before, the conclusion has been that books published outside the US after 1922 are probably not in the public domain in the US at this time. At least -- I shouldn't say that is true for all works, but it is for the ones I have checked. The sticking point is that the work had to have been in the public domain in its country of publication in 1996; also it could not have been published in the US within 30 days of publication abroad. See this page:
http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm
Scroll down to "Works First Published Outside the U.S. by Foreign Nationals or U.S. Citizens Living Abroad" and check note 10 for more information.

Non-renewal doesn't apply to works published outside the US, and the fact that your book is on gutenberg.de only means that it is PD in Germany. I don't know if it would have been PD in Germany in 1996; I'm not sure if Germany was life+70 then or not. You could always submit it to Gutenberg (US) and see what they say, but I am betting that if it were PD in the US, it'd already be on the US site. But who knows. :)
Laurie Anne

Hokuspokus
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Post by Hokuspokus » May 22nd, 2011, 10:00 pm

Two more things:

Gutenberg.org and Gutenberg-DE are two different organisations. Gutenberg-DE took the idea and name but is in no way connected with Gutenberg.org

Amazon, I think, makes a mistake with German books published after 1923. I wouldn't be surprised if they vanish from Amazon in short time. There only needs to be one copyright holder who cares and dares to do something about it (against Amazon).

European books enter the public domain 95 years after the first publication. Radetzkymarsch will be pd in 2028. No way around that. The European public domain groves every year, the US pd doesn't for the moment. There will be more and more cases like that in future.

Nullifidian
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Post by Nullifidian » May 23rd, 2011, 11:48 am

Hokuspokus wrote:European books enter the public domain 95 years after the first publication. Radetzkymarsch will be pd in 2028.
Aha! So there is a fundamental and easily understood rule regarding European books. I think that partially makes up for the fact that Radetzkymarsch isn't available for LV. :D

It's also nice to know that Balduin Groller's Dagobert Trostler stories (originally published as Detektiv Dagoberts Taten und Abenteuer, 1910-1912, followed up by Neue Detektivgeschichten in 1914) are in the public domain, providing someone can find a source text and upload it. The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes series piqued my interest in Groller's detective, but sadly most of his work isn't available in English, and certainly none prior to 1923.

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Post by Hokuspokus » May 25th, 2011, 10:12 pm

To keep things tidy, I split the posts about a possible European LV Branch and put them here:
http://forum.librivox.org/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=33535

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Post by chocoholic » May 26th, 2011, 5:36 am

Hokuspokus wrote:European books enter the public domain 95 years after the first publication.
I thought it was 70 years after the author's death, Hokus?
Laurie Anne

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Post by RuthieG » May 26th, 2011, 6:43 am

chocoholic wrote:
Hokuspokus wrote:European books enter the public domain 95 years after the first publication.
I thought it was 70 years after the author's death, Hokus?
It is always so within Europe, but in the USA works first published solely outside the US between 1923 and 1977 enter the public domain 95 years after publication.

Works published outside the US after 1 January 1978 enter the Public Domain in the US 70 years after death of author, or if work of corporate authorship, 95 years from publication.

Ruth

(This information from Cornell University's Copyright Term and the Public Domain )
My LV catalogue page | RuthieG's CataBlog of recordings | Tweet: @RuthGolding

chocoholic
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Post by chocoholic » May 26th, 2011, 7:23 am

Aha, thanks for the clarification, Ruth!
Laurie Anne

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