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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10915
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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My son is 17 wants to re-write an autobiography written by

Resolved Question:

My son is 17 wants to re-write an autobiography written by a writer who died in 1924. It is a leadership project in which he hopes to make the English more readable for modern readers and remove non-pc terminology. He also wants to include a forward or dedication to the original writer. Would re-publishing the work of a writer who died over 90 years ago an infringement of copyright in the UK?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 1 year ago.
Alex Watts :

Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.

Alex Watts :

The term of author's copyright under the Copyright Act (which protected only printed works) was 70 years from the publication of the work, or the lifetime of the author and 7 years thereafter, whichever was the longer.

Alex Watts :

Therefore if he died in 1924 + 70 years is 1994 and therefore yes it is no longer subject to copyright

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

JACUSTOMER-qlqqxi0s- :

Does this apply outside of the UK or just within the UK?

JACUSTOMER-qlqqxi0s- :

In other words: the book was originally printed outside of the UK, but my son is looking to self-publish the re-written text with a dedication to the original writer within the UK and Ireland.

Alex Watts :

Thank you, ***** ***** to UK law.

Alex Watts :

So even it would have to be subject to UK copyright. If not it could be reproduced anyway

Alex Watts :

But in any event 70 years has passed so it can be published in the UK

Alex Watts :

Does that help?

JACUSTOMER-qlqqxi0s- :

My concern here is that the low-cost outlets he is looking at for publishing the re-written work include an electronic version that might be of interest outside of the UK, namely Europe and the US. If something is published like that in the UK, but "consumed" in the Eu or elsewhere, would UK law be the jurisdiction of relevance? Sorry for the questions, but I am slightly confused about how copyright works across different jurisdictions as far as e-books are concerned.

Alex Watts : You need to have copyright in each country it is being sold
Alex Watts : i can only advise you on UK law, not International law.
Alex Watts : but inside the UK there is no issue
Alex Watts : Other countries may have different laws or may be the same as ours.
Alex Watts : But I can only tell you about UK law as a UK lawyer.
JACUSTOMER-qlqqxi0s- :

Thank you

Alex Watts : Can I clarify anything else for you?
JACUSTOMER-qlqqxi0s- :

Who should I ask about the international situation?

Alex Watts : Well I think you need to post a question in each jurisdiction, because each lawyer is only qualified in their country.
Alex Watts : so you may need to do Irish, Spanish law etc
Alex Watts : can I clarify anything for You about UK law please?
JACUSTOMER-qlqqxi0s- : I thought there might be international agreements in the UK that would cover the e-book situation?
Alex Watts : Sadly not, but if it's sold and disteibuted here in the UK then UK law should apply
Customer:

I just googled international copyright agreements, and I now understand that UK law is subject to the Berne Agreement which stipulates 50 years after the author's death, but also allows signatories to extend the period such as the UK have done to 70 years.

Customer:

If this is the case, so I still need to check out all the other countries Just Ask covers?

Alex Watts :

I would just in case and to be sure.

Alex Watts :

Does that help?

Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10915
Experience: Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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