Archiver > TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM > 2012-04 > 1335720790

Subject: [TGF] More on copyright
Date: Sun, 29 Apr 2012 10:34:15 -0700

I had asked the copy right office about something written in 1897 and this is the answer I got:

Generally speaking, a work first published prior to 1923 would be in the public domain in the United States. The Copyright Office does not maintain lists of works that have fallen into the public domain.

When a work is in the public domain, there are no restrictions as to its use, and anyone can utilize it as they wish - with no restrictions as to copying, preparing derivative works or distributing copies and without regard for the other exclusive rights of the former copyright owner as enumerated in Section 106 of the copyright law.

Any changes made to a public domain work (the inclusion of a new forward, additional text) might be subject to copyright protection if the new work contains enough copyrightable subject matter to sustain a claim. In no way, however, should that new registration be construed as bringing the original work "out" of public domain; copyright protection would extend only to the changes made, and not to the original work.

If you have additional questions or need further assistance, our contact information is listed below.


U.S. Copyright Office
Attn: Public Information Office-LM401
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, DC 20559-6000
Phone: 877-476-0778 (toll free) or 202-707-5959
Fax: 202-252-2041

----------------Original Message-------------------
Date: Sat, 28 Apr 2012 12:02:52 -0400
From: "Michele Lewis" <>
Subject: [TGF] More on copyright
To: "TGF Mailing List" <>
Message-ID: <002101cd2558$5e8ef7b0$1bace710$>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

Is James Tanner on this list? Here is an article he posted and apparently he presented this info at RootsTech 2012. Here is a quote from the article:

"I can cite statutory and case law to the effect that an entity cannot create a copyright interest in a public domain document merely by making a copy and claiming a copyright in the copy. Additionally, no entity can assume a copyright merely because they have the original public domain document in their possession or claim ownership of the document."

If this is the case, then it would seem that you don't need permission. If James is on the list maybe he can elaborate on this.


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