Books published prior to 1923, or prior to 1 January 1964, that were not renewed (in the 28th year following publication), are not under copyright, and are thus in the public domain.
Books enter the public domain in the United States and many other countries on the first day of January 70 years after their author’s death year. However, if a book has been copyrighted, then it may still fail to enter the public domain at this time.
In particular, works published before 1989 in the United States with no adequate notice of copyright, and works published in the United States before 1964 with no renewal of copyright, are likely to have entered the public domain. Some works by authors who died less than 50 years ago, but who died far enough back in time for their copyrights to expire at the time the term was renewed by the nation, may still be in the public domain.
Works never published prior to 2003 (and never registered for copyright until 1978) are now in the public domain in the United States, as long as they were by authors who died more than 70 years prior to the last new years day. In short, any books published in 1923-1963 are still in the copyright system, and so are any books published after 1964 (1964, though until 1989, they must have been properly noticed and registered).
Works produced during the years 1923-1964 If the author published a book, or registered the work prior to publication, with notice of copyright, on or before January 1, 1923, through January 1, 1964, then that work was protected for 28 years. Any author who published work after 1923, and managed to renew his or her 1923 work, was allowed to escape the net and retain his copyright.
How Public Domain Works in the United States
At that time, any work published prior to January 1, 1978, was entitled to 75 years copyright protection; all authors works published on or after January 1 were under copyright for the life of the creator, plus 50 years. Generally, works published from 1923 through 1977 would be eligible for copyright protection for 95 years from their publication date.
Generally, copyright laws will continue to apply 90 years after publication to works created from January 1, 1978, to September 30, 1983. Generally, works of any type created on or after 1/1/1978 (when works are fixed in a tangible medium of expression) are protected under copyright for the duration of the authors life, plus 70 years.
Copyright law also guarantees these rights to be valid only for limited times, so when they expire, works may fall into the public domain, where they may be reconstructed legally by future authors. The U.S. public domain applies to works that are either currently unprotected under an intellectual property rights such as copyright, or have had their intellectual property rights expired. Every January 1, a set of copyrighted works loses protected status and goes into the public domain.
Because the copyright terms for both single works and whole works end at year-end, works begin to count toward being in the public domain on or before the beginning of the next year.
Copyright Law for Municipal Works
Works created by employees of the Municipal Government are covered under the same copyright protections and limitations as any other works created during the course of employment, that is, they are placed into the public domain 50 years after the authors death. In works created for the use of the employer, or works created to employ an employer, absent agreement to the contrary, copyright belongs to the employer that commissions the work. Works that are copied by corporations, or made for hire, have copyright terms of 95 years from publication date, or 120 years from the date created, whichever is earlier.
For example, if an author of a work died on June 1, 2000, protection for that work will last until December 31, 2070. Copyright protection–the legal right to reproduce, publish, and sell the work–expires after some time following the death of the works author/creator. When works are in the public domain Publication date Copyright duration Before 1923 No copyright; in the public domain 1923-1963 28 years protection.
Even when works are part of the public domain, a completed set cannot be copied and sold as a clipart set, as this could violate the unique way the works were collected (known as a composition or group-works copyright).
Copyright on the Artwork of Books
If the cover of a book has been altered or if additional art has been added, all art contributions must be acknowledged in the copyright pages. This acknowledges you as the creator of your ebook version, including your name and a new publication date. If you are using text from a journal, anthology, newsletter, or journal published prior to March 1, 1989. If you are using text from a journal, anthology, newsletter, or magazine published prior to March 1, 1989, check whether a copyright notice exists, either for an individual article or the journal.
This rule has been repealed; no copyright notice is required for works published after March 1, 1989 (although works published before March 1 should still include the notice). Some publications in the Federal Register (or portions thereof) are protected by copyright law, usually indicated on the title page or by copyright notice. State and local laws and ordinances that are based on those codes generally include a copyright notice at the publisheras name, or in some other way that indicates that the publisher claims the copyright.
Final Sentiments on Copyright Law
I am not sure whether those laws apply to older works, or whether they only apply to current copyrights when those longer codes were adopted. The Seychelles Copyright Act defines life + 25 years for most works, starting in 1991 (the latest year I could find the legislation). The primary goal of copyright law is to enable the creators of works to receive reasonable compensation for their creative efforts.
Technically, many works dating from 1925 are likely to be already in the public domain, as copyright owners did not follow the formalities that were once required to protect a work under copyright.9 Back then, if you did not include the copyright notice–i.e. Even if many works from 1925 might be in the public domain technically, it is usually up to the audience to assume they are still under copyright (or else risk lawsuits) as it is hard to find relevant copyright information: older records can be fragmentary, confusing, or lost.
After 95 years, many works from 1925 are either lost already, or literally deteriorating (as is the case with older movies7 and recordings), which is a testament to what lengthy copyright terms can do for cultural artifact preservation. Thanks to a number of new laws, a 28-year copyright term was ultimately extended to 95 years — meaning no new works were made available in the public domain from 1998-2018 (a two-decades-long drought for readers).