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Is J. Russell Smith's book "Tree Crops" out of copyright?  RSS feed

 
Adrien Lapointe
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Does someone know if Tree Crops is out of copyrights? I mean there are a few reprints, but it is not clear if the main text is still copyrighted or not.
 
Dan Boone
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I consider it 99% likely, but I can't confirm it.

According to the Cornell cheat sheet, published works published in the US between 1923 and 1963 are in the public domain if the copyright was never renewed but are potentially still under copyright for 95 years after the date of publication if the copyright was renewed.

My .PDF (which incidentally comes from the Soil Health Library and asserts that it is in the public domain) shows a 1929 US copyright date.

There seems not to be any straightforward way to search for copyright renewals on older works; the Library of Congress has published paper indices of the older renewals, but if these have been consolidated in one comprehensive and easily-searchable electronic place, I don't know of it.

So, potentially, the work could remain under copyright until 2024. HOWEVER copyright renewal of works from the first half of the 20th century seems not to have been easy or routine, and the vast majority of such works didn't get consistently renewed until 1964 when renewal stopped being important. Hence my conclusion that the document very likely is no longer protected by copyright.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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The crappy edition I have says

Originally published 1929, revised 1950; copyright not renewed.

This edition copyright © 2015 Midwest Journal Press. All Rights Reserved.


If I interpret this correctly, it means that they have copyright over their printing, but not over the content....
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Adrien Lapointe wrote:The crappy edition I have says

Originally published 1929, revised 1950; copyright not renewed.

This edition copyright © 2015 Midwest Journal Press. All Rights Reserved.


If I interpret this correctly, it means that they have copyright over their printing, but not over the content....


Yes, that means that if you have a 2015 edition, it is under copyright via that printing. If you have a copy prior to that date, it is in public domain.
Today, when you write anything you can have instant copyright, but you still have to file the copyright for it to stand up in court.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Ok, I am asking because I have been playing with the idea of massaging the original text into an ebook that actuall works on e-readers. At the moment it seems like all of them are poorly formatted.

So, if I understand correctly, as long as I don't copy that print, I am fine.
 
Dan Boone
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Adrien Lapointe wrote:Ok, I am asking because I have been playing with the idea of massaging the original text into an ebook that actuall works on e-readers. At the moment it seems like all of them are poorly formatted.

So, if I understand correctly, as long as I don't copy that print, I am fine.


Yup. That's exactly what I did with the persimmon ebook I am selling via Scubbly. (Although I do not intend to assert any copyright over anything that might be copyrightable in "my" edition.)

To get hypertechnical, the people with the 2015 edition only have copyright over the stuff they wrote or added to their edition (such as their preface or introduction). Despite what their copyright notice claims, you cannot successfully establish copyright over public domain works by merely reprinting them.

However, what if they did a detailed edit, revision, and expurgation of the work? (For instance, they might have taken out the casually racist references to various peoples said to consume some of the tree crops discussed.) My understanding is that the law is murky about how much editing they'd need to do before the result was capable of being copyrighted. So, to be on the safe side, it's probably much the best to work from an older edition; that way there's no issue.
 
John Polk
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The PDF at Soil & Health clearly states that Their copy is in the public domain.

Tree-Crops.PNG
[Thumbnail for Tree-Crops.PNG]
 
Dan Boone
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Yes. But as you pointed out in a different thread the other day, they are operating under Australian law, which does differ in some fairly substantial ways from US law. What's more, they might be mistaken about the work's public domain status, or even making a deliberately false statement (people sometimes do that, I have no reason to think they would though). With copyright, just because somebody makes an assertion about a work's status doesn't make that assertion automatically correct.

In this case I think they are likely to be correct. But them saying so doesn't help very much.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Hathitrust Digital Library also states that Tree Crops is public domain: http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015001919615;view=1up;seq=9
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Dan, in order to be able to gain a new copyright on a previous work that has gone to public domain you have to make enough changes, additions as to make it significantly different from the original work.

Usually the U.S. Copyright office will look at something from the perspective of is it Plagiarism?
By using this as their base, they will want to see every chapter with enough changes as to have become a new work.
You can not get a new copyright just by editing out, you must also make significant additions that either further the idea(s) or better explain the idea(s) in greater detail than the original work.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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So could the US Copyright office tell me if the copyrights were renewed?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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as long as you have the library of congress file number, yes they would be able to tell you if the copyright had been renewed.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:as long as you have the library of congress file number, yes they would be able to tell you if the copyright had been renewed.


Is there a database I can access online for older work?
 
Tyler Ludens
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http://www.copyright.gov/records/
 
Tyler Ludens
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Might be in copyright http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/smith/treecropsToC.html
 
Adrien Lapointe
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The record is quite confusing...
 
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