Saturday, August 2, 2014

How Great Books Get Forgotten

Why these books are Public Domain and yet under my own copyright.

How to keep classic texts available for our chidlren - republish public domain books.


It's sad, but a feature of our times that the deluge of information is making books disappear. And yet, when a book is really good, it keeps showing up.

I created this series from research into copywriting as a subject. Two copywriting legends, Eugene Schwartz and Gary Halbert gave short lists of the people they studied to get their success. If you cross-compare these lists, you'll find the bulk of them are now in the public domain and available for anyone to republish.

The reason I've republished them is to keep them in circulation. The reason they are under my own copyright now, is to protect the original work I've put into them and to as well get some return for the time spent editing, correcting OCR errors, and formatting for easy reading as ebooks.

This page is assembled to have one single page where I can give the links showing the legal copyright status of these books.

As possible I tried also give the link where you can download your own version if you want - for free. (Some of these take some sleuthing-out.) Realize that while the folks at Gutenburg, Google, and other public domain patrons do a great job in converting these to digital, the adage "you get what you pay for" can be readily proven with free books versus the added-value reproductions.

Below this list, there is a discussion of what makes a public domain book newly copyrightable.
Search for renewed copyrights is done on Stanford's system.

The books in this Masters of Marketing Secrets series: 

Breezy by J. George Frederick (d. 1964)
Breakthrough Advertising (Eugene Schwartz' Breakthrough Advertising Review Notes) by Eugene Schwartz (d. 1995)
Selling Things (Part of "How to Sell Without 'Selling'") by Orison Swett Marden (d. 1924)
Successful Low Pressure Salesmanship (Part of "How to Sell Without 'Selling'") by Edward Berman (d. 1989)
How to Write a Good Ad(vertisement) by Victor O. Schwab (d. 1980)
Masters of Advertising Copy: principles and practice of copy writing according to its leading practitioners (How to Write Ad Copy That Works) by J. George Frederick (d. 1964)
My Life in Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins (d. 1932)
Obvious Adams by Robert R. Updegraff (d. 1977)
The Robert Collier Letter Book (The Robert Collier Copywriting Course) by Robert Collier (d. 1950)
Scientific Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins (d. 1932)
Tested Sentences that Sell by Elmer Wheeler (d. 1968)
The Lasker Story (The Untold Story Behind Advertising) by Albert Lasker (d. 1952)
Intensive Advertising (The What, How, and Why of Advertising) by John E. Kennedy
Reason Why Advertising (The What, How, and Why of Advertising) by John E. Kennedy

Copyright law and the public domain

The whole point of copyright law is to protect property (and commerce) rights of individuals and corporations. A very lengthy description of copyright law is found on Wikipedia. Once this right has expired, these books fall into the public domain. At that point, anyone can republish them in whole, or base new works on them as derivative works.

One of my main applications is to create new derivative works in new arrangements as compilations. These compiled books, composed of several public domain books, are then my copyright - even though the individual books remain in the public domain.

The U.S. Copyright Office says it this way:
The copyright in a compilation of data extends only to the selection, coordination or arrangement of the materials or data, but not to the data itself. In the case of a collective work containing “preexisting works”—works that were previously published, previously registered, or in the public domain— the registration will only extend to the selection, coordination or arrangement of those works, not to the preexisting works themselves.
The point of such compiled books is to enable people to easily find and read collections of material which are otherwise unavailable. I've done the work of researching and finding these books and also verifying that they are in the public domain.  As well, they have been extensively edited and formatted, but just proofing a book itself doesn't mean you get a new copyright on it. You have to do substantial work to make it a true derivative work.

While most of the books I've re-published have fallen out of copyright (pre-1923) or never renewed prior to 1964, some have run their original 28 years and are now in the public domain. Please study copyright laws for yourself, using the links above. There are several good sites which explain these laws and their changes more simply.

There are orphans, where the copyright is being violated with impunity as simply no one cares. And others, like Claude M. Bristol's Magic of Believing, were renewed under questionable circumstances (by the author, about 21 years after he died.)

Note: Wikipedia points out that anything published after 1964 won't be in the public domain for quite awhile (one exception being those works published before 1976 with no copyright notice):
Copyright renewal has largely lost its significance for works copyrighted in the US in 1964 or after due to the Copyright Renewal Act of 1992. This law removed the requirement that a second term of copyright protection is contingent on a renewal registration. The effect was that any work copyrighted in the US in 1964 or after had a copyright term of 75 years, whether or not a formal copyright renewal was filed... A further amendment to US copyright law in 1998 extended the total term of protection to 95 years, which now applies to all works copyrighted in 1964 or after.
So a book published in 1964 will be public domain in the U.S in at least 95 years after original copyright, or when the author died, whichever happened last. (That's 2059, at least.) Meanwhile, you'll be able to publish in foreign countries as much as 25 years earlier - or 2034.) That questionable Bristol work is definitely public domain in 2018 in the U.S. and 2021 in foreign countries.

All of this is to bring you up to speed that you can safely use this above list of books as you want. I've done the hard work and research to make them available once again - and perhaps we won't see these genius classics disappearing anytime soon.

Note1: Most foreign copyrights are lifetime of the author plus 70 years. You can publish in the U.S. but not have the same rights in many foreign countries. The U.S. is a signatory on the copyright convention, so a foreign author'e heirs have rights against your republishing that book in the U.S. There's a legal grey area where the book was published in the U.S. and not renewed here, even though the same book is still under copyright overseas.

Note2: Amazon is sticky, very sticky about these issues for their Kindle. Anally so. Best is to not claim foreign rights just because it's PD in the U.S. Even so, you're going to have to shepherd these books through, proving their PD status - and even then, unless it's "annotated," "illustrated," or "translated" is may not be accepted - or simply blocked with no recourse. Meanwhile, Lulu is not so sticky. Publishing a hardcopy version on Lulu with their "extended reach" will get that hardcopy book sold on Amazon and everywhere else, when you can't get it through their Kindle approval process.