The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
Genealogists often republish information from old books as well as from archives, courthouses, web sites, and other sources. Sadly, many modern day genealogists simply ignore copyright laws. Doing so can result in an unpleasant notice from a law firm appearing in your mailbox. The laws that limit someone’s right to copy a work have changed in recent years. Your awareness of the current laws can protect you from land mines of liability as you prepare your research for publication.
This article will address copyright laws and issues in the U.S. Other countries will have different laws concerning copyrights.
Here is one of the most important issues concerning copyrights, as written by an attorney:
Copyright protection does not last forever. That is why copyright is often called a “limited monopoly.” When copyrights grow old and die, the works they protect fall into the public domain. Subject to certain exceptions, public domain works may be freely copied or used in the creation of derivative works without permission, or authorization, of the former copyright owners.
The question quickly arises: “How can I tell if a work falls under copyright protection or not?”
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