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Re: -- Copyright Issues

May 05, 1998 06:27 PM
by Dallas TenBroeck

May 5th 1998

As far as I know the copyright inherent in a letter is always the
author's until he formally releases it. As I recall this has been
held up at law.  His estate holds copyright on letters for the
usual 17 year period after death, and may renew that copyright
for another 17 years, in case there is a reason for doing this.
By will an author can cause his writings to be sealed, and
presumably never published. or the executors and trustees may be
permitted to release them for reading and publication at their
discretion, or after a stated number of years.

As I recall copyright on books, articles, etc. runs initially for
17 years from date of writing.  This can be renewed for a further
17 years.  Thereafter the published material goes into the public
domain, and anyone can reprint it.  When an author gives an
article for consideration to a publisher and the publisher offers
to issue it, a formal contract is written and signed by both
parties in which the rights and residuals relative to the
article/book are defined legally.  The author can sell his
copyright outright.  Or he can retain a percentage interest in
all sales and residuals (film rights, serial rights, etc...) for
a stated period of time.

However, as matter of formal courtesy it is customary to notify
the former copyright holder if one's intention to reprint if one
is a publisher of repute.

Copyright is a matter of format, and not of content or meaning.
The words and their sequence first used by the author cannot be
used without permission.

Plagiarism is a form of quasi-piracy where a portion of the words
or phrases used by a writer are incorporated in another's
supposedly original work.  This again can be with intent, or
unwittingly, and without intent to copy.  It is often found in
text books that this happens and publishers are very careful to
have all proposed "new" texts 'read' by competent authorities in
that field before going to press.

Patent Law is a totally different matter, similar to, but not
related to copyright in application.

This is as I remember it, in summary.

> From: "Marshall Hemingway III" <>
> Date: Tuesday, May 05, 1998 4:36 PM
> Subject: Re: Copyright Issues

>In a message dated 98-05-05 15:00:17 EDT, Bjorn wrote:
><< The fact that it is published on the internet actually
> its copyright. >>
>By "publish" do you mean articles in Theosophy World Magazine or
stuff posted
>in regular email messages like this. Who would the copyright
belong to in an
>e-mail message ?? Is what I am writing here in this posting
belong to me by
>copyright law or does it belong to the List that sponsors this
site or is it
>just devoid of copyright and part of the public domain ???

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