Friday, 1 December 2006

Is Goddard out of Copyright?

A revolutionary book on 12th C anglo-norman costume is getting quite old:

Goddard, Eunice. Women's Costume in French Texts of the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press; Paris: Presses Universitaire de France, 1927.

So it must be out of copyright soon, surely?

Well that's going to depend upon the country. There's a nice summary of US copyright law, and Project Guttenberg explains Australian copyright law. Both depend upon when the author died.

Libries Australia lists the author as "Eunice Rathbone Goddard 1881-"
The book was published in Baltimore, so It's a fair bet they were American.
Searching a USA deaths register for Eunice Goddard (Eunice Rathbone Goddard gave no hits),

gives 3 results:
Eunice Goddard 22 Sep 1881-Jul 1967, last residence 21212 (Baltimore, Baltimore City, MD)
Eunice Goddard 19 Nov 1906-09 Oct 2002, last residence 02360 (Plymouth, Plymouth, MA)
Eunice Goddard 04 Aug 1911-Oct 1985, last residence 37914 (Knoxville, Knox, TN)

The first one looks about right to me. I don't have absolute proof (this was a derivative data source, not a government body), nor can I be sure Eunice lived/died/published in the USA, but this seems a good match, odds are this is the one. The last residence in Baltimore, the same city they published in, is a bit good to be a coincidence.

So assuming a death date of 1967:
Guttenberg Australia says "Where an author died after 1954 the copyright period is the life of the author plus seventy years from the end of the year of the author's death."
2037. .

US law says works from 1923-1963 had to have a copyright notice and to renew their copyright in their 28th year (1955).
The copy I have is a 1973 reprint. It claims no copyright, but maybe the 1927 edition did?
If the original contained no copyright notice, then it is public domain in the US now. If it did, then it had to renew it, or it's public domain in the US now. If it was renewed, it's copyright in the US until 2022.

Renewals for 1955 are online [1], [2], and Eunice Goddard is not listed. Yay!

I think the reprints don't count as they are listed as reprints.

So, it should be able to be put on the project Guttenberg site and acesed by US citizens, even though it will be illegal for Australians to do so.

I'm asking Gutenberg US if they can publish the book. Although an American may have to scan the book, and it'll be illegal for me to download it. But at least the masses of US based 12th C costumers could look it up for themselves.

Edit: Alas, Project Gutenberg has replied that they think the fact that it is published in France as well as the US probably means the French copyright stops it being in the public domain.


Joanna said...

Hi teffania'

Just an update, Goddard's is now officially out of copyright (according to Project Gutenberg lawyers). A group of us are working on an ebook which should be available in the next month or so.

Teffania said...

Now online at