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Siva Vaidhyanathan <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 15 Oct 1998 13:16:04 -0500
text/plain (58 lines)
Sorry. I was wrong. Jim Zwick's information was correct. The "Sonny Bono
Copyright Extension Act" (actual title) is worse than I thought. Here is
the text of the major changes:

>(Sec. 102) Prohibits the annulment or limitation of rights or remedies
>under State laws with respect to sound
>recordings fixed before February 15, 1972, until February 15, 2067
>(currently, 2047).
>Extends the duration of copyright in a work created on or after January 1,
>1978, to the life of the author and 70
>(currently, 50) years after the author's death. Makes the same extension
>with regard to joint works created on
>or after such date.
>Extends the duration of copyright in anonymous or pseudonymous works or
>works made for hire on or after
>such date to 95 (currently, 75) years from the year of the first
>publication, or 120 (currently, 100) years from the
>year of creation, whichever expires first. Makes conforming extensions
>with respect to provisions regarding
>the presumption of an author's death.
>Extends from December 31, 2027, to December 31, 2047, the duration of
>copyright in works published on or
>before December 31, 2002.
>Extends the duration of copyrights in their renewal term at the time of
>the effective date of this Act to 95 years
>from the date such copyrights were originally secured.

This last clause, which has not been reported or explained in any of the
articles I had read, is what Jim was concerned about. Apparently, any work
still under renewed protection from the 1909 act can enjoy extended
protection. Now it will be 95 years from publication.

If copyright on stuff in _Europe and Elsewhere_ expires at the end of 1998,
there should be no problem. It would slip into the public domain just under
the wire if the act goes into effect Jan. 1 1999. However, I have not been
able to determine when the act will got into effect. The 1976 act did not
go into effect until 1978.

Under the 1909 law, the longest protection could last was 56 years. That
means that if this bill goes into effect Jan. 1 1999, all works enjoying
copyrights renewed by Jan. 1, 1943 would enjoy extended protection. If
_Europe and Elsewhere_ was published first in 1922, its original copyright
would have been renewed in 1950. It should expire at the end of 1998.

What a mess. Does this encourage anything good? E-mail the president at
[log in to unmask] and ask him to veto it. He won't, because he works
for Microsoft and Disney. Still, it's worth a try.

Siva Vaidhyanathan
History Department
Wesleyan University
Middletown, CT 06459
(860) 685-2996