A. Joseph Ross
Fri Mar 26 01:23:05 EDT 2010
On 26 Mar 2010 at 0:42, Garrett Wollman wrote:
> <<On Thu, 25 Mar 2010 18:53:11 -0700 (PDT), Martin Waters
> <firstname.lastname@example.org> said:
> > Also, regarding one of the points Joe Ross made: I have a hazy
> > pseudo-recollection that before the big changes in the copyright
> > laws that he mentioned, material was not automatically copyrighted
> > by virtue of being created. In other words, is a top-30 list from,
> > let's say, the 1960s, even copyrighted, if it wasn't registered in
> > Washington and doesn't say copyright on it?
Under the 1909 copyright law, which applied until 1 January 1978, a
work published with a copyright notice was protected by copyright.
It didn't have to be registered. But until the late-1980s revision
for the Berne Convention, it had to be registered to be renewed and
the renewal had to be registered, to renew the copyright for a second
term. The initial term was 28 years. Under pre-1976 law (most of
whose provisions took effect on 1 January 1978), the renewal term was
for another 28 years. Under the 1976 law, the renewal term was 47
years, for a total of 75.
> Your recollection is correct, Marty. If it was first "published" (in
> the technical sense understood by copyright lawyers, which does not
> seem to include all the things you or I might consider publication)
> prior to 1977, and did not have a valid copyright notice attached,
> then it is in the public domain. Note that this does not apply to
> many kinds of non-textual works, nor to any unpublished works, which
> (prior to the Copyright Act of 1976) were covered by a hodge-podge of
> state copyright laws. "Unpublished" works now have a near-perpetual
> (125-year) copyright, so no unpublished works created after 1885 are
> in the public domain yet. I haven't seen the surveys in question, but
> I have seen numerous other surveys and similar ephemera, and don't
> recall ever seeing one with a copyright notice.
I have three WCOP survey sheets from 1958-59. They all have
copyright notices in the name of Plough Broadcasting Corporation.
> If the surveys do have a copyright notice, then I'd fall back on what
> Joe said -- the copyright probably wasn't registered, or if it was, it
> is extremely unlikely that it was renewed. Nonrenewal (of a
> sufficiently-old work to have required renewal) puts the work in the
> public domain. To be sure, one would want to pay a lawyer to grovel
> over the Copyright Office's files (on the fourth floor of the Madison
> Building at the Libary of Congress in Washington).
There is also the Catalog of Copyright Entries, a regular book
published by the Copyright Office, a copy of which can be found in
the Boston Public Library. I had occasion to research a copyright
back in the early 1970s, but not since. I suspect the copyright
entries are now on a CD-ROM or something, or perhaps even online.
A survey sheet from 1958 would have required renewal in 1987. Since
yesterday I looked it up and found that the Berne Convention
Implementation Act of 1988 took effect on 1 March 1989, so that would
be the date on which renewals became automatic.
A. Joseph Ross, J.D. 617.367.0468
92 State Street, Suite 700 Fax 617.507.7856
Boston, MA 02109-2004 http://www.attorneyross.com
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