Book publishers

Chuck Guzis cclist at
Tue Jan 30 20:02:09 CST 2007

On 30 Jan 2007 at 16:29, Grant Stockly wrote:

> My question would be...if the company that produced the book no longer 
> exists and no one bothered to get the copyright renewed...then is the book 
> public domain or at least owned by the author?

You'd have to go back a long way before the issue of "Copyright 
Renewal" had a bearing on this.    Basically, anything having an in-
force copyright in 1978 had the term extended to 75, then to 90 years 
automatically.  That means that the only PD material we currently 
have (unless said material passed into the PD prior to 1978) was 
copyrighted prior to 1923. 

It's rare for property belonging to a defunct company to go 
unclaimed.  Usually, someone purchases the intangibles as part of 
bankruptcy.  Said intangibles often wind up in a box in a closet, but 
they exist nonetheless.

But no, copyright as a rule does not revert to the author, unless 
this is so stated in the original contract wherein the author assigns 
ownership of the copyright to the publisher.

Yes, it can be maddening to find out who owns what; the law is no 
help.  If you publish something and the daughter of the guy with the 
box in the closet recognizes that you've published her material 
without permission, you're in trouble.  

Contrary to legend, there is no such concept in law as "abandonware". 
 The Copyright Office has issued an opinion about archival 
preservation of old programs on obsolete hardware.  Unfortunately, 
this doesn't cover much of what I see plastered around as 
abandonware, said material often would run just fine on a Windows XP 
command prompt, or, at worst, on DR-DOS or ConcurrentDOS or a number 
of other systems.  The last I heard, the platform (x86) isn't 
obsolete yet.


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