Can anyone explain Copyright Expiration for Old Car Manuals?

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2015: Can anyone explain Copyright Expiration for Old Car Manuals?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Solak on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 10:05 am:

I suppose this is a little OT because it concerns a non-Ford vehicle, but I guess the discussion could impact the Model T.

I recently purchased a 1938 Graham. Graham was one of the independents that took lumps during the Depression, ceased during WWII (the plant shifted to war work), and they produced one final model after the war. In 1947 they transferred all automotive assets to Kaiser-Frazer.

Anyway, that is the timeline.

My issue is that I'm trying to find a owners/shop manual for the car. All I've found so far is one for $150. And that seems a little excessive (I'm a cheap T guy at heart, I suppose). I've been able to locate a copy that I am trying to get a hold of through inter-library loan. If I get it on loan, I was thinking I would scan it in a non-destructive way for my own use. My question, though, since these things are rare, is: can I distribute my digital scanned copy to anyone else who finds them-self in the same predicament? Obviously that is where the copyright question comes into play. I'm not looking to sell the scanned version - just to help out others who can't find the books either.

I've read a bit about copyright expiration and how authors can extend the copyright. The thing that makes it difficult to pinpoint when this manual will go into the public domain is that there is probably not one author - it was produced by a corporate entity. And did the entity "die" when they sold off the automotive assets? Did Kaiser-Frazer then become the "author". And what if Kaiser-Frazer never really died but morphed into something that isnt' a car company any more, but the corporate entity still exists?

Short question is: does anyone know if/when such a manual, written in the late thirties, would enter the public domain?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Henry Petrino in Modesto, CA on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 10:18 am:

I found this on Nolo Law online. I don't know how accurate it is, but it's a start:

Has the Copyright Expired?

To determine whether a work is in the public domain and available for use without the author's permission, you first have to find out when it was published. Then, apply the following rules to see if the copyright has expired:

Copyrights of all works published in the United States before 1923 have expired; the works are in the public domain.

Works published after 1922, but before 1978, are protected for 95 years from the date of publication. If the work was created, but not published, before 1978, the copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years.

For works published after 1977, the copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. However, if the work is a work for hire (that is, the work is done in the course of employment or has been specifically commissioned) or is published anonymously or under a pseudonym, the copyright lasts between 95 and 120 years, depending on the date the work is published.

Lastly, if the work was published between 1923 and 1963, you must check with the U.S. Copyright Office to see whether the copyright was properly renewed. If the author failed to renew the copyright, the work has fallen into the public domain and you may use it.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David Dewey, N. California on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 12:42 pm:

As long as you are copying for your own personal use, I believe you are "covered".
Supplying others is another question--but if you do it for NO compensation, I THINK you are covered.
I really doubt that anyone picked up the Graham rights, but you never know! Orphan cars, at that time, were just that, Has Beens and few wanted anything to do with them.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John F. Regan on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 12:58 pm:

Copying anything for a friend and then just giving it to him is a copyright violation in every sense of the word because the author is being defrauded of his right to be compensated for that copy. It doesn't matter whether you sold it to him or gave it away since the author didn't give it away and it was his property. I don't think there is any evil intent here but just wanted readers to understand that a pirate copy of anything is a copyright violation if it is not in the public domain and has a copyright on it.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dave Wells, Hamilton Ontario on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 12:59 pm:

Everywhere you go nowadays, you are filmed and photographed without your consent. Copy away and have fun. They should be glad you're keeping the car alive.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Solak on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 01:32 pm:

I found a blog dated 2013 that says that in 5 years (2018), the very first Mickey Mouse cartoons circa 1923 (Steamboat Willy) will enter the public domain. That is the 95 year timeline. You can bet the farm that Disney has done everything it can to keep the copyright alive. So I think that would mean that WORST case, a manual copyrighted in 1938 should be public domain by 2033.

I suppose if a company revised the manual and updated the copyright in, say, 1941, that the original version would enter the public domain in 2033 and the revised edition in 2036?

From what I can tell, there MAY be different (shorter) timelines if the author never re-established their rights somewhere along the lines. But to find out if Graham ever did so would probably require a copyright search. I've no interest in paying for that.........

Here is the article, by the way. It describes the passage of the copyright extension law back in the late 90's. It should surprise no one who the main lobbyists were in support of the extensions.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2013/10/25/15-years-ago-congre ss-kept-mickey-mouse-out-of-the-public-domain-will-they-do-it-again/

An interesting (fair-use :-) ) tidbit from the article

"Public debate over the last extension has stimulated increased academic research into the economics of the public domain, and as a result, we know a lot more about the costs of longer copyright terms than we did 20 years ago.

One striking example: a study looked at the availability of books published in the last 200 years on Amazon.com. Surprisingly, the study found that there are more printed books available from the 1880s than the 1980s. When books fall into the public domain, as works from the 1880s have, anyone is free to re-publish them. In contrast, books from the 1980s are still in copyright, so only their original copyright holder can give permission to distribute them. As a result, older books are actually easier to get online than newer books are. That means that the 1976 and 1998 extensions have deprived a generation of readers of easy access to books from the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and 1950s."


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rick J. Gunter -- Sparta, Missouri, USA on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 02:45 pm:

I would be willing to bet that Disney will do everything in its power to keep Mickey from ever going into public domain. They got the copyright law changed a few years back for that reason. They have many lawyers to make sure that Mickey (and other animated friends) stay under their roof.

My wife used to work for a souvenir company. The had had continual problems of other companies printing copies of their postcards. They had a legal right to take the other companies to court. However, a few postcards certainly did not justify the cost and trouble of a law suit. All they did was send letters to the other company asking them to "please" stop printing and selling their postcards.

Personally I don't think there would be a problem with reprinting a Graham manual. However, it is in that gray area and I am not qualified to give legal advise.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By kep on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 03:29 pm:

Put a parrot on your shoulder and copy it. There is no alternative if you want the info' from it as other copies do not exist.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Garry Potter on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 05:55 pm:

I have a Graham owners's manual for the Crusader Series 80. There is no date on the manual but I believe it is mid 30's. It is in mint condition and I plan to sell it at the next flea market. Would you be interested in purchasing.
Garry 705 487-1788


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gary H. White - Sheridan, MI on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 06:01 pm:

Well lets see, Graham Paige to Willys-Overland to Willys Motors to Kaiser-Fraser to Kaiser Jeep to American Motors to AM General (Humvee).

Maybe with todays computerized records some corporate flunky would take the time to research the archives to find the original paperwork proving copyright ownership. But I doubt it. Go for it.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Solak on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 06:05 pm:

@ Garry

Thanks, but I'll need the Model 97, that came out in 1938.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hal Davis-SE Georgia on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 07:26 pm:

I'm no lawyer, so I can't speak for what's LEGAL. However, I WILL say what I think makes COMMON SENSE, and yes, I know that is two totally different things. If the company is no longer publishing the thing, what are they losing if someone copies it? Copying one only hurts those that are trying to sell an original copy. To me, there is a big difference between selling a pirated copy of software or a movie that the buyer might otherwise purchase legitimately and selling a copy of something that the original author doesn't sell anymore and has no intention of ever doing so.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mack Cole ---- Earth on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 08:03 pm:

Copy right laws and the high prices on music and books it causes is why I buy my stuff at flea markets and yard sales. I have not watched a "latest" movie in years. I watch them on .25 vhs and 1.00 dvd
I would copy the manual and let the folks know where the orignal can be found if I was really worried about a 91 year old Graham Ceo coming after me with a court document.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mack Cole ---- Earth on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 08:04 pm:

And 1 more detail, I do remember back in the late 80's when I got my first car,I could go to Crazy Joe's auto parts and they had a technical manual library and a copy machine. You could copy the section you needed and go home and do the work.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Erik Johnson on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 08:21 pm:

Folks have been photocopying and passing around antique automobile literature since the hobby began more than 75 years ago.

If it weren't for that and the copy service provided by the Detroit Public Library, a lot of folks with antique cars, especially rarer makes, would be SOL.

1


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ted Dumas on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 08:39 pm:

Why not buy the manual for $150. It's more than you want to pay but a drop in the bucket compared to what you will have invested by the time you have restored the car. Your time to copy and print a copy with your computer and scanner is worth something.

As for making a copy or pages for someone, how many people need info on a 1938 Graham. If you need to help someone out, rather than supplying him a copy, maybe the pages could magically appear in his mailbox one day.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Solak on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 10:41 pm:

@Ted,

If I can get the book from the library and scan it with already owned equipment, then that is $150 to spend on car parts!

And speak of the devil, I just got an email from my library that the book is waiting for me! Awesome!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Fred Dimock, Newfields NH, USA on Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 06:30 am:

Copy-write?
I am in China and everyone here understands what that is.

I went to the Shanghai Science and Technology center and got an official copy of a Tumi carry on bag.
I know that it is an official copy because that is what they said it is.
When they said that it was an official copy I asked if it was real and they said yes it is a real official copy.
They wanted 600 for it but I talked them down to 100 which is about $17.00e
I almost bought a Rolex for 100 but figured that it was a bit overpriced and did not want to gothru the hassle of talking the guy down

DVD's and software is even more fun. One can get any movie for 5 and Windows 7 with license for 10. That is $.85 and $1.70.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Solak on Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 03:56 pm:

The plot thickens a little bit.

First off, the manual I got from the library is for 1935-1937, so not the 1938. However, there is a paragraph pasted onto the first page (same typeface, and obviously as old as the manual) that says it also covers the 1938-40 models as they are "mechanically almost the same".

So not quite the home run I was looking for, it should serve for most things I guess.

But, to bring it back to the OT, the book has no copyright indication anywhere in it.

So......what does that mean?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hal Davis-SE Georgia on Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 04:32 pm:

Gut feel? Copy it for your own use. Don't tell anybody you did it. Don't start a second job selling repro manuals. If someone else needs a manual and you trust them, let them borrow it and don't ask if they copied it while they had it.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By James A. Golden on Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 04:55 pm:

One of my mom's cousins wrote a small book on my family history. He died many years ago, but I found a copy and wanted one. The copy had the circled C on it, which suggested it had been copyrighted about 1946.

Living only 20 miles from the Library of congress, I thought I might learn who owns that copyright now, so I took a trip over there.

What I found was that the fee had never been paid and the book had never been copyrighted at all.

Then I was told that it did not make any difference, as the owner or his family still had the rights that a copyright would guarantee, if proof could be provided that the work I was using belonged to someone else.

I was also told that the copyright extension provided by more recent laws did not apply, if the owner did not apply for the extension. He was dead before the extension law was passed and he did not apply. I did get a copy of the book from a state historical society.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Thomas Mullin on Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 06:10 pm:

As I understand Copyright law, you can make one copy for personal use without restriction.

To be officially copyrighted, you must spell out the word "Copyright" or use the C in a circle. A C in parentheses is not legit. No date and Copyright notice means it is not copyrighted.

I believe there is a higher level of penalty if you provide the library of Congress with two copies of the copyrighted work than if you just assert your copyright.


In the old days


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chuck Hoffman - Mokelumne Hill, Calif. on Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 07:20 pm:

I have never copied anything but I have found a lot of copied stuff that I needed at flea markets. I don't remember exactly where or when, but that's where I got them. I promise!


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