Bellsouth vs. Donnelley
Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony
Copyright Code—A Linked Index
Feist Publications vs.
versus Southern Building Code Congress International Inc.,
International v. Meredith Corporation
Trade-Mark Cases, 100
U.S. 82 (1879)
Constitution, Article 1, Section 8
Information on this site cannot
be considered legal advice. If you need legal advice on copyright, please
consult an attorney or refer to one or more of the sponsor links on the
side of the page. Another place you might look is the US Copyright Office
The copyright information on
this site applies to U.S. Copyright, unless otherwise stated.
Claims That Just Ain't So
My interest in copyright started several years ago because
of statements made on web sites and in mailing lists that just didn't seem
to be right. Today, after researching and studying copyright and
copyright issues on and off for several years, I know why they aren't
right. I've provided a few examples, with explanations.
Documents older than 1923 are in the
public domain with all copyrights and extension to copyrights
False! This statement
only applies to published documents. Unpublished documents
fall under different guidelines. The term of these unpublished works is
life of the author plus 70 years or December 31, 2002, whichever is
greater. (See Copyright
Copyright law specifically recognizes
the right of the person(s) doing the work in creating a compilation to be
compensated for their work.
This concept was known as the "sweat of the brow" or
"industrious collection" test. According to the Supreme Court, this was a
misapplication of the law that overlooked the "fundamental axiom of
copyright law that no one may copyright facts or ideas." (Feist)
All works published after 1922 are
protected by copyright.
False! The fact
of the matter is that copyrights on most works published from 1923 through
1963 lapsed into the public domain because they were not renewed at the
end of their first copyright term. It's been estimated that more
than 85% of the works copyright in that period are no longer
protected. I would guess that a far higher percentage of copyrighted
genealogical works were never renewed.
"You're going to get into copyright
trouble if you keep posting..."
There really isn't any copyright police. Remedies for
infringement require the copyright holder to take civil action, which is
very unlikely for material posted to an electronic mailing list.
Beyond that, in most instances, what is being posted is likely not an
If it's completely composed of facts, there is no
The amount of material posted in a single e-mail is likely
small enough to be considered "fair-use."
Most genealogical resources are in the public domain,
including most books published before 1964.
Copy Right, Copy
What is Copyright?
My Copyright Infringement
How to Deal With Online Media Pirates
Copyright Fundamentals for Genealogy
My Copyright was Infringed!
What is NOT
protected by copyright?
That Just Ain't So
Civil or Criminal?
Fair Use and the DMCA
Not Everything Protected
Purpose of Copyright
U.S. Government Works
Who Owns the Law?
Work Place Training
About Copy Right, Copy Sense