copyright

1 Jan 2012

Public Domain Day

Today is Public Domain Day, which is designated to celebrate the role of public domain in our culture by highlighting authors who died in 1941 and whose work will enter the public domain on 1 Jan 2012.

A little fuzzy on the concept of public domain? When an author’s copyright expires, his or her works enter the public domain where they can be used for any purpose without prior permission.

Copyright usually extends from the life of the author plus a certain number of years after his or her death (or pmapost mortem auctoris). In the United States and the European Union, the copyright terms for authors expire 70 years pma; in Canada and New Zeland, copyright ends 50 years pma.

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27 Sep 2011

U.S. Copyright for Genealogists – Orphan Works

Last week I provided a link to downloadable handy guide for genealogists to the complex issue of copyright in the United States.

Today let’s talk about a situation genealogists run into a lot: “orphan works,” defined as the situation in which the owner of a copyrighted work cannot be identified and located by someone who wishes to make use of the work in a manner that requires permission of the copyright owner.

Archivists Heather Briston, Mark Allen Greene, Cathy Henderson, Peter Hirtle, Peter Jaszi, William Maher, Aprille Cooke McKay, Richard Pearce-Moses, and Merrilee Proffit have compiled a guide describing what professional archivists consider to be best practices regarding reasonable efforts to identify and locate rights holders.

Visit this link to download the SAA best practices document.

20 Sep 2011

Tuesday’s Tip: U.S. Copyright for Genealogists

Copyright law in the United States is as old as the country itself and is a complex topic. For genealogists, a basic understanding of copyright is valuable as we negotiate our way through dozens of different types of source materials in the course of our research.

Archivist Peter Hirtle of Cornell University has put together a clear and helpful chart on this complex topic, available here.

 

31 Dec 2010

PublicDomainDay.org: Follow Friday

Tomorrow is “Public Domain Day,” which is designated to celebrate the role of public domain in our culture by highlighting authors who died in 1940 and whose work will enter the public domain on 1 Jan 2011.

A little fuzzy on the concept of public domain? When an author’s copyright expires, his or her works enter the public domain where they can be used for any purpose without prior permission.

Copyright usually extends from the life of the author plus a certain number of years after his or her death (or pma: post mortem auctoris). In the United States and the European Union, the copyright terms for authors expire 70 years pma; in Canada and New Zeland, copyright ends 50 years pma.

The intellectual property rights enshrined in copyright are complex, but genealogists (and their research) can benefit in particular from an understanding of public domain. Probably the most obvious benefit is the ability to use privately published family histories that were written by authors who died 70 or more years ago.

Genealogists also understand that works deserve proper attribution and citation, even if those works are in the public domain and do not require prior permission for use.