Dating books dating books without copyrights
However, since copyrights from 1922 had already expired, anything copyrighted before 1923 is now in the public domain in the United States, even if its copyright was renewed.Copyrights from 1923 to 1963, if not renewed, and not made exempt from the renewal requirement (see above) have also expired.This has gotten rather expensive as of late; as of May 2014, the fees amount to 0 per hour (with a 2-hour minimum) for them to search their files for you.If you want an advance estimate of the search fee, it will cost 0 more!Since a copyright renewal has to be sometime in the 28th year, you'd look for renewals in the records for the original copyright date plus 27 years and the original date plus 28 years.So if the copyright was originally 1941, you'd look at the volumes for 19 to see if there was a renewal.
You can't assume that a book as a whole is in the public domain unless you've determined that the copyrights for the book and for any previously published material included in the book have expired.Sometimes, even if the copyright been renewed, by mailing them you might be able to convince them to let an edition go online anyway.It's also possible to do a search yourself of the copyright records.Some books originally published outside the US by non-Americans are exempt from this requirement, and in fact some such books had their copyrights restored recently.
If you need to know more about the rules for books published outside the US, see this page from the Copyright Office, explaining recent changes in copyright law imposed by GATT.
For 1978 onward, they're online at the Copyright Office, and below I'll describe how you can search their online records.