minstrel: [Fwd: From the SCA's Copyright Goob]

Brett and Karen Williams brettwi at ix.netcom.com
Wed Jun 25 14:55:22 PDT 1997

Subject: From the SCA's Copyright Goob
Date: Wed, 25 Jun 1997 08:51:00 -0400
From: Margo Lynn Hablutzel <Hablutzel at compuserve.com>
Reply-To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu
To: A&S List <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Oh, hi.  I am the official SCA Chronicler's Deputy for Copyright.  How did
this discussion pop up so full-blown without my noticing?  Well, I do get
the A&S List on Digest, which arrives only once per day.  Let me catch up a

I wrote an article for TI in 1987, which is now being revised and expanded
for future publication, all about how copyright law interacts with the SCA.
 I have also written the copyright section of the Chroncilers' Handbook,
also currently under revision and supdating (a fairly constant battle,

Let me hit a few of the questions that seem to be asked.  Please note that
this is PRIMARILY USA and Canadian Law, except as specified otherwise:

1)  Copyright lasts for the life of the author plus fifty (50) years, OR
for 100 years after creation for an unpublished work whose copyright is
held by a corporation, OR 75 years for a published work whose copyright is
held by a corporation.  Unless I misremember the last two numbers.  This
has been in effect since the 1976 revisions in the USA, with a minor
modification when Berne was joined 3/1/89.  Also, any copyrights which were
going to expire while the Act was being revised in the 1970's were
grandfathered in to the new limits.  Under the old (1919) Act, a copyright
lasted for 28 years and had to be renewed at the endof that time; if it
was, you got another 28 years for a total of 56.  So you had to keep track
and check to see if the copyright had been renewed to gain the full 56
years, or not.

2)  Under USA Copyright Act, you may officially presume that something is
in the Public Domain 75 years after it is published.  (I think Section
104(c) but I am writing from home, and the Act is not here, I checked.)
There are a few hoops to go through, such as checking with the Copyright
Office to see if the person sent in a note saying they are still alive, or
if the heirs sent a notice of death date from which the fifty years starts

3)  This means that anything from period -- or pretty much, anything before
about 1923 -- is in the public domain.

4) CAVEAT: If the work has been altered in some way, such as translation,
the ALTERATION is itself capable of being protected by copyright.

5) Both the USA and Canadian Acts have specific sections about Fair Use.
Pretty much, you canmake a copy of something for YOUR OWN PRIVATE USE.  You
may NOT make copies to distribute as handouts, without permission.  You
also may not incorporate significant portions of someone else's work into
your own without specific written permission (compare: plagiarism).

6)  While you do not have to use a copyright notice in the USA since Berne
was joined 3/1/89, failure to do so beforehand did put something into the
public domain -- but without the notice it is hard to check whether the
item falls under that rule.  Also, there were provisions for recovery.  I
do recommend that people continue to use the copyright notice as a warning
to others that you treat these issues seriously and claim ownership in the

If you have specific questions or issues, please feel free to contact me
directly.  I did speak on copyright law and the SCA at last Pennsic but
could not commit to this one; I am willing to travel to the various
Kingdoms to speak at Ithras or other Collegia.

                                        ---= Morgan

           |\     THIS is the cutting edge of technology!
           |/   Morgan Cely Cain * Hablutzel at compuserve.com

                          Heckling in the 90's:
            "All three of your girlfriends have ugly tattoos."

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