Tuesday, March 14, 2017

a lesson in copyright law

From the Duke University Law School Center for the Study of the Public Domain:

Current US law extends copyright protections for 70 years from the date of the author’s death. (Corporate “works-for-hire” are copyrighted for 95 years.) But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years (an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years). Under those laws, works published in 1953 would be passing into the public domain on January 1, 2010.

Under the old law, Fahrenheit 451 would have entered the public domain in 2010.  That means we could print it online, copy it, quote it in as much length as we like, etc. etc.  Sadly, now we won't legally be able to do that with works published in 1953 until 2049.

I don't want to break the law.  I think Ray Bradbury, his estate, and whomever he designated after his death should earn whatever's right under the law.  And I don't need the headache.  So I'm not posting a page with the full text.  At the same time, I firmly believe that if Mr. Bradbury were to take part in this conversation, he would support sharing the book with Santa Maria High School students who don't have enough copies or the money to go out and buy their own.  So here is a link to the full text online (it is not nearly as well-formatted or flammable as a physical book, which I still encourage you to find).

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