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Appropedia:Determining copyright status

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Jurisdiction[edit]

US law is most influential when making decisions, because many sites (including Appropedia) are based in the USA, and if a site complies with US copyright law, that usually means it complies with other countries' laws as well. It may be that displaying certain content in

What we can use, and what we can't[edit]

All work ported to Appropedia must be either public domain or under a compatible license - meaning CC-BY,[1] or CC-BY-SA.

Public domain status[edit]

US federal government[edit]

US federal government sites are often public domain - see US federal government websites and public domain for details.

Expired copyright[edit]

Copyright works enter the public domain after a period of time. In the U.S. this is 70 years after the author's death. There are not an enormous number of works of great value from before that time, but :

Presumption as to Author's Death. — After a period of 95 years from the year of first publication of a work, or a period of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first, any person who obtains from the Copyright Office a certified report that the records provided by subsection (d) disclose nothing to indicate that the author of the work is living, or died less than 70 years before, is entitled to the benefit of a presumption that the author has been dead for at least 70 years. Reliance in good faith upon this presumption shall be a complete defense to any action for infringement under this title.[2]

Therefore, as at 2009:

  • works whose author died in 1939 or earlier are out of copyright.
  • works published in 1914 or earlier are probably out of copyright; however to rely on this safely, a certified report from the Copyright Office is needed.

To take advantage of this, for works published in 1914 or earlier:

  • Search for information on the author (being careful to find the right person, not a different person with the same name). If they died before 1939, the work can be used. (Make sure you document your sources - e.g. at the very least, link it from the talk page.)
  • If the date of death cannot be determined with certainty, contact the U.S. Copyright Office and find out what is involved in getting a report. (Cost? Paperwork?)

Notes[edit]

  1. This is compatible in that Appropedia can use CC-BY work; however, work created on Appropedia is licensed as CC-BY-SA and cannot be used in a CC-BY work.
  2. Law of the United States of America, and Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United States Code, § 302.(e), from the U.S. Copyright Office website.