SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Public Domain, Copyright and inspiration in illustration

Discussion started on

Poster
  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region florida
Hi all- Does anyone have a good source to find out if a specific book is in the public domain? I find lots of "Popular Books in Public Domain" lists online, but I'm looking for a place where I can somehow research specific books that are in a grey area - say author has passed away and copyright renewal unknown....

Also, what are your experiences with illustrating based on imagery that you've read in books that are not in public domain for award submittals or portfolio? For instance, what are the rules about whether you are somehow infringing on copyright if you let someone's written words become a catalyst for your art- even if it's not a recognizable character but a description of a place, or a feeling? This is all confusing to me.
#1 - August 28, 2017, 06:39 PM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Moderator
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region longislandny
You are okay using someone else's work for inspiration. I'm afraid I can't answer your other question.
#2 - August 29, 2017, 11:04 AM

Poster
  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region florida
Thanks Debbie- Maybe I need to be more specific with the general question - for the Narrative Art Award coming up, the guidelines state under "FAQ" That we may use an original story or any story in the public domain. So, that got me questioning whether a specific book I'm intrigued by is in the public domain. Do you see where I'm getting? If I use this story for the art, it has to be in the public domain. I've researched and can't figure out if it is. And then that got me thinking of the bigger picture - about where / how to draw the line??
#3 - August 29, 2017, 11:20 AM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Moderator
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region longislandny
If the published book is less than 75 years old, it's not likely to be up for grabs. Other than that, it's hard to say. You could try contacting the publisher.
#4 - August 29, 2017, 11:50 AM

Children's Book Editor
Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region nymetro
New!
If the published book is less than 75 years old, it's not likely to be up for grabs. Other than that, it's hard to say. You could try contacting the publisher.
Debbie, I believe that due to the "Sonny Bono" extension, the term for already published works (it's different for works being published now) is 95 years. What that means is that books published through 1923, which went PD before that was passed, are safely in the public domain. More books will not be added until 2019 (95 years after 1924). For her purposes, it may not be worth doing.

The complication that Lisa faces is that under older copyright rules, some books published after 1923 may have fallen into the public domain if their registration was not renewed. To find out if that happened, one has to do research.... And I don't know how to even begin to do that research.
#5 - September 01, 2017, 08:14 AM
« Last Edit: September 03, 2017, 10:19 AM by HaroldU »
Harold Underdown

The Purple Crayon, a children's book editor's site: http://www.underdown.org/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/HUnderdown

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Moderator
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region longislandny
Thanks for the update, Harold.

Lisa, as an SCBWI member, you can post your question in the Ask a Lawyer section. I should've suggested that in the first place.
#6 - September 01, 2017, 09:13 PM

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.