Public Domain Readers discussion

46 views
General Discussion > Finding out if a book is public domain or not?

Comments Showing 1-13 of 13 (13 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Mex (new)

Mex (mexie) Hi all,

Is there a quick, and relatively painless way to find out if a book is actually public domain or not? I'm asking mainly about books that were under copyright but have since become public domain, but any other related info is always interesting to read.

~Mex


message 2: by Sawako (new)

Sawako | 493 comments Mod
Hi Mex,


Yeah, it would be cool if there is a website in which you enter the book's title and tells you whether it's in the public domain or not. And if not, when it'll be.

I don't know if there is a website like that or not.

But, you can check Wikipedia

Or you can type on Google the book's title "public domain". For example Strong Poison "public domain"

I always check books on Gutenberg/Feedbooks. But my personal favourite is OpenLibrary.org. On OpenLibrary, even if the book isn't in public domain you can still read it by borrowing it online for 14 days.

You can check Places to read public domain books. That's how I knew about OpenLibrary.

I hope this is the information that you are looking for. If not, I hope someone else will join and give us more info.


message 3: by Lanelle (new)

Lanelle | 450 comments Mod
I bet Mark would know the answer to your question, Mex. Hopefully he'll see this thread and give us some information.


message 4: by Mark (last edited Aug 31, 2018 03:25PM) (new)

Mark Davess (markdavess) | 66 comments ~

Unfortunately it involves learning the terms of protection of your country and figuring it out, sometimes from the date of publication, more often from the date of death of the author (not forgetting that for a translation that means the dates for that translation/translator, not the original work).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...

For the USA anything published before 1923 is public domain (thus some H.G. Wells stuff, for example, is public domain in the USA but not the UK). Then anything published 1923–77 becomes public domain 95 years after publication, except for some works which didn't have their copyright renewed before 1963, for which the term is 28 years. Then anything 1978 and after becomes public domain 70 years after the author's (or translator's) death.

Basically, at present. in the USA, you ask:

Was it published before 1923?

Because that's 95 years already anyway.

Next year onwards you just ask:

Was it published over 95 years ago?

And then from 2048 you ask:

Did the author (or translator) die over 70 years ago?

That other thing, about 28 years if not renewed pre-1964 is too confusing to bother with.

In the UK, and most European countries, it's simpler:

Did the author (or translator) die over 70 years ago?


message 5: by Mex (new)

Mex (mexie) This is all annoyingly tricky LOL Anyway thanks to all for the responses


message 6: by Mark (last edited Sep 01, 2018 02:24PM) (new)

Mark Davess (markdavess) | 66 comments ~


Actually, I got the H.G. Wells part backwards.

ALL of his works are public domain in the UK already, becase he died in 1946 (72 years ago; i.e. more than 70 years).

In the USA later works of his are still not public domain because 95 years still haven't passed since their publication.

The Shape of Things to Come, for example, will not be public domain in the USA for another decade, but in the UK and EU it already is.

It highlights how much easier it is if you're in the UK.


Paperback Junky (ihatemattwall) | 2 comments Hey there! I’m new but saw this thread. I use wikisource a lot of the time and at the bottom of each page it will have the copyright info and if it’s public domain or not.


message 8: by Sawako (new)

Sawako | 493 comments Mod
Paperback Junky wrote: "Hey there! I’m new but saw this thread. I use wikisource a lot of the time and at the bottom of each page it will have the copyright info and if it’s public domain or not."

Welcome to the group! That's an awesome way to check books. Thanks for sharing!!


message 9: by Mark (new)

Mark Davess (markdavess) | 66 comments I'd never thought of using wikisource. Useful. Here's an example (and one where we also know the translation is in the public domain, not just the original): https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Poor_Folk


message 10: by Sawako (new)

Sawako | 493 comments Mod
Mark wrote: "I'd never thought of using wikisource. Useful. Here's an example (and one where we also know the translation is in the public domain, not just the original): https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Poor_Folk"

WOW. Thanks, Mark.


message 11: by David (new)

David Manvell | 2 comments I am working on a project wherein I am making some YouTube videos teaching foreign languages to people. In the videos (Which are monetized) I use various props, magazines and books. Basically I have someone talking in the video and describing in detail what they see as they examine the objects or go through the books/magazines. This is the color blue, this is grass, this is a banana etc. all in the target language. The actual story and text is not really of consequence. Anyhow the books and things I am using need to be in the public domain as the videos are monetized even if the books themselves are not being read directly.

On some sites some of the books are listed as such:

Five Little Elves
by Public Domain, Dan Yaccarino (Illustrations)

Does that mean the book is public domain and the photos are under copyright (therefore I cannot use it) or does that mean the entire book is public domain (And therefore I can use it)?

I am trying to not step on someone else’s shoes and steal their work so any help would be appreciated.


message 12: by David (new)

David Manvell | 2 comments I answered my question. I contacted the author and he replied that when it is listed as such above then the book text is public domain but the pictures are still copyrighted (So I cannot use them). Still on the hunt for something I can use but at least I have an answer on the listings like that.


message 13: by Lanelle (new)

Lanelle | 450 comments Mod
I'm glad you found your answer, David. Sorry that you couldn't use the pictures.


back to top