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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    12

    Default Obtaining Copyright Protection for a Revised, but Previously Published Family History

    I've spent the last ten years or so revising a book originally written by my great-grandfather in 1916. He held the publishing of the book until early 1919 as several members of the family were killed during the first world war and he wanted to include their stories.

    In 1929, his cousin enlarged the book with corrections and republished it.

    I have taken both books and done the same. It is considerably larger than the 1929 edition.

    It is possible to copyright my release of this work? If so how do I need to go about it.

    Thanks,

    J.E. Schwenk

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    19,901

    Default Re: Obtaining Copyright Protection for a Revised, but Previously Published Family His

    The original material is sufficiently old to be in the public domain. THe question if your new work is copyrightable would stem from the nature of the revisions. Just reformatting it or cleaning it up or other editing isn't likely to qualify as a derivative work. There would have to be a substantial amount of original material added. But again, only your changes will be protected by copyright.

    Copyrightable work is protected from the moment it is set down in a tangible form. You don't have to do anything. You get some additional benefit by registering the copyright, but you can do it after the fact.

    Lots of information in the FAQs on the copyright office's webpage http://www.copyright.gov.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,867

    Default Re: Obtaining Copyright Protection for a Revised, but Previously Published Family His

    any original work has a copyright simply due to it's creation and construction in a tangible form.

    to register a copyright go here

    here is a "basics of copyrights" from that site

    A copyright protects original works of authorship. Your grandfathers work may still be covered under copyright protection as well as any original works by your great great uncle. Depending on what actions were taken concerning those works, the dates the copyrights expired varies.

    Quote Quoting flyingron
    View Post
    The original material is sufficiently old to be in the public domain. .
    how do you come up with that Ron? from what I understand, it is quite possible the grandfathers rights don't expire until after next year and the uncles until after 2024.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    19,901

    Default Re: Obtaining Copyright Protection for a Revised, but Previously Published Family His

    I was referring to the Great Grandfather's work. A work published in 1919 has expired. The derivative work (I missed that he was intending to incorporate Granddad's work in his), could indeed be protected unitil 2024 IF it was properly marked and IF the original copyright was renewed.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    38,867

    Default Re: Obtaining Copyright Protection for a Revised, but Previously Published Family His

    Quote Quoting flyingron
    View Post
    I was referring to the Great Grandfather's work. A work published in 1919 has expired. The derivative work (I missed that he was intending to incorporate Granddad's work in his), could indeed be protected unitil 2024 IF it was properly marked and IF the original copyright was renewed.
    1919+95= 2014 (I mistakenly used the 1916 date in my last post) So, if the G-grandfathers rights were extended in the same manner, would they not also still be protected?

    and I did leave it open:

    Depending on what actions were taken concerning those works, the dates the copyrights expired varies.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    19,901

    Default Re: Obtaining Copyright Protection for a Revised, but Previously Published Family His

    A derivative work doesn't extend the copyright on the underlying work.
    No work published before 1923 has any copyright duration left no matter how it was marked or nenewed.
    The original copyright duration was 28 years and could have been renewed for 47, but it would have expired before Sonny Bono Act got the duration on ACTIVE (in 1998) copyrights extended for another 20 years. The 1919 work most definitely could not have been protected past 1994.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,867

    Default Re: Obtaining Copyright Protection for a Revised, but Previously Published Family His

    I got it now. I had to go back and do some figgerin'. I see it know. That 4 year period (1919-1923) is the difference.

    and no, I wasn't thinking of the derivative aspect. I just didn't calculate the time periods to realize that g-grandpa missed that additional extension.

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