copyright law, pre-1950, subsisting 1978 (?), etc.

From: Davis Phillips (
Date: Fri Aug 08 1997 - 09:29:26 EDT

and the B-Greek list members,
The question was raised recently by a list member about whether Machen's
book was still covered by copyright. If you are not interested in Copyright
Basics, read no more. . .

I am not a lawyer, but a fairly close reading of the text below leads me to
think that Machen's book probably has a copyright "total term protction of
75 years." (Thus 1923 + 75 = 1998; I don't know what DAY in 1998 the
copyright would expire.) (Paul, this is a follow-up of the note I sent you
a month ago; I finally had opportunity to "check my sources" -- and here it

Here are some quotes from Copyright Office Circular 1 "Copyright Basics",
Oct 1993 printing, by Copyright Office, Library of congress, Washington,
D.C. 20559-6000.

On page 6: "How Long Copyright Protection Endures... Works Originally
Created and Published or Registered Before January 1, 1978... During the
last (28th) year of the first term, the copyright was eligible for renewal.
The current copyright law has extended the renewal term from 28 to 47 years
for copyrights that were subsisting on January 1, 1978, making these works
eligible for a total term of protection of 75 years... For more detailed
information on the copyright term, write to the Copyright Office and
request Circulars 15, 15a, and 15t."

Also on page 6: "Works originally created on or after January 1, 1978..
[are] ordinarily given a term enduring for the author's life, plus an
additional 50 years after the author's death."

(Note: you might also check with the current publisher and get their opinion.)

Best wishes. Davis Phillips LADDP
From: Bill Mounce <>
Date: Wed, 6 Aug 1997 22:42:52 -0800
Subject: Re: Machen's textbook

Are you absolutely sure that the copyright on Machen has expired?

I would love to see the book on-line (really, I would), but I would be very
careful before doing so without legal counsel.

Bill Mounce

I don't think this is correct.

   I am subscribing to b-greek-digest and only get updates once or twice a
day, so I do not know if you have already gotten a flood of responses about
this. So I am sending this to you only, right now.
   I did some research on this a while back, checking out some books on
copyright from the university Library.
   At one time I was under the impression that the RENEWAL was also for
28 years, but later learned that the RENEWAL is for 48 years, making a
total of 76 years. Thus 1923+76 = 1999.
   I don't have a book of the law for pre-1950 with me right now; perhaps
someone else has provided you specific quotes of the US and/or
international copyright law.
  If you do not get any other report of what I have just mentioned, please
let me know and I will check my sources. Or if you have a specific quote
from US law, let me know.


Davis Phillips

 Davis Phillips, Senior Systems Analyst, College of Liberal Arts
 University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712 USA
 phone 512-232-2135 FAX 512-471-4518

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