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Re: Copyright / Old Journals

In my opinion, as a publisher, it would be highly unlikely that the
publishers of what you term "old and obscure journals" would have insisted
on written copyright transfer by authors to the journals. This is a
phenomenon of the last two decades or so. Nor would it be likely for the
publisher to have formally assigned copyright back to the authors after
having copyrighted a given entire issue.  In days of olde things were much
less formal, and it was generally assumed and tacitly agreed that the
publisher held copyright on individual articles published, as well as on
entire issues.

That is not to say, however, that an author or his/her estate could not
challenge these loose arrangements. As in many business situations, one
must ultimately make a business, as distinct from a legal, decision as to
the risk of so unlikely an occurrence. Legal actions cost money, and from
what has been described earlier there seems to be little incentive to
initiate costly litigation.. If one is seeking absolute certainty and
ironclad safety, one will be disappointed---and the project stalled.

Alan M. Edelson, Ph.D.

Carrie Russell wrote:

> On Mon, 11 Jan 1999, Eric Weig wrote:
>The University of Kentucky Libraries are currently in the early stages of
>a digitization project that will involve encoding old and obscure
>Appalachian journals for presentation on the World Wide Web.  One question
>we have concerning copyright, is how to clear copyright for an entire
>journal issue or set of issues that has multiple authors' works.  Many of
>the journals date back to before the 1930s.  The authors may no longer be
>living.  Also, many of the authors are obscure figures who would be next
>to impossible to locate today.
>So, the crux of my question is whether or not the institution that
>published the journal can give copyright clearance for all the works
>within the journal, or if copyright needs to be considered for individual
>articles within a particular journal issue.
>Eric Weig
>Electronic Resources Librarian
>2-1 William T. Young Library
>University of Kentucky
>Lexington, KY 40506