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  1. #1

    Question Copyright Issues With Pre-1923 Maps

    Hello,

    I have purchased a large number of original old, paper maps, that were originally published in the USA from the 1800's and early 1900's, which carry US copyright notices of prior to 1923.

    The questions:

    1) Is my interpretation of copyright law correct in that these maps are in the public domain?

    2) If so, can I scan these maps, print and sell copies of them, as they are of railroad historian interest, without copyright infringement issues?

    3) Can I save these scans to a format, such as PDF, and effectively copyright such PDF to prevent others from using it? Does merely changing the format of the map image constitute a valid derivative work for copyright purposes?

    Thanks,
    Dave (New Hampshire)

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Copyright Issues With Pre-1923 Maps

    As you can see, the maps should be in the public domain. I am not going to guarantee that as I have no first-hand information about the maps, but yes, if they are in the public domain you can use, reproduce, etc., the maps. Adding your own copyright to your derivative work can give you some protection of that work, but if there is no real way to discern your scan or image from somebody else's, that may not offer much protection.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Copyright Issues With Pre-1923 Maps

    Thanks, that is what I thought, but I needed a sanity check.

    I had just listed a reprint of an 1875 map for auction and had gone online to find out some more info about the publisher and found a website with that very map (and thousands of others) all with this guys copyright notice dated 2005.

    Thanks,
    Dave

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