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PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2009 4:09 pm 
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Today, January 1st 2009, most(*) works by authors who died at any point during the year 1938 will officially enter the public domain (which means they can be reproduced, adapted, translated, published, circulated, and built-upon without the permission of their estates and without the payment of royalties). So what speculative fiction works have become part of the free heritage of humanity today?

How many science fiction (or fantasy or horror or crime) writers can you find on this list? At a quick glance through I've only spotted Karel Čapek, author of Russum's Universal Robots and of many satirical, dystopian, and anti-Nazi works.

(* I amn't a lawyer, but apart from some exceptions I believe this to be true worldwide so long as the author owned the copyright before their death...)

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 12:09 am 
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Djibril wrote:
Today, January 1st 2009, most(*) works by authors who died at any point during the year 1938 will officially enter the public domain (which means they can be reproduced, adapted, translated, published, circulated, and built-upon without the permission of their estates and without the payment of royalties). So what speculative fiction works have become part of the free heritage of humanity today?

How many science fiction (or fantasy or horror or crime) writers can you find on this list? At a quick glance through I've only spotted Karel Čapek, author of Russum's Universal Robots and of many satirical, dystopian, and anti-Nazi works.

(* I amn't a lawyer, but apart from some exceptions I believe this to be true worldwide so long as the author owned the copyright before their death...)


That's certainly the case under British law (seventy years after author's death for written works), not necessarily in other countries though. There are several novels by H. Beam Piper (died 1964) available online from Project Gutenberg, meaning that they're publis domain in the US at least, though they won't be in the UK until 1.1.2035.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 2:18 pm 
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If memory serves, Spain may have a longer copyright duration.

Someone told me recently that there is a lot of Russian SF available free online (presumably in translation).

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:50 pm 
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Yes, there are of course exceptions where copyright wasn't registered before the crucial date (in the '70s I think), so more recent works can be in the public domain. There are also exceptions where the copyright wasn't owned by the author in the first place, but by a publisher or similar: so although HP Lovecraft died in 1937, a whole bunch of his work is still copyright until 2016.

Anyway, for stuff that *is* public domain, it's great news for anyone wanting to create derivative works (such as podcasting, adapting for animation, etc.).

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:30 am 
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Quote:
it's great news for anyone wanting to create derivative works

This also applies to certain (though not all) types of Creative Commons licences. I was listening to Benjamin Rosenbaum (I think it was on Mur Lafferty's podcast); he was positively encouraging derivative works from his story "The Ant King".

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2009 9:54 pm 
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Mike A wrote:
This also applies to certain (though not all) types of Creative Commons licences. I was listening to Benjamin Rosenbaum (I think it was on Mur Lafferty's podcast); he was positively encouraging derivative works from his story "The Ant King".

Yes, Creative Commons works are even more good news for animators, illustrators, musicians, and others who make creative works based on original stories by other artists. (With the caveat that not all CC licenses allow derivative works, and some require derivatives to be "Shared Alike".) The added advantage, of course, is that CC works tend to be more recent, with all the advantages of that--more up-to-date, probably less familiar to the audience, probably never released by a big Hollywood label...

But we all draw on Ancient Greek parable, Anglo-Saxon fantasy, Mediaeval melodrama, Shakespearean tragedy, Victorian horror, and mid-20th Century schlock, so I guess it's only right we pay it forward.

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