Any book published in the nineteenth century is now in the public
domain. That means that anyone may reprint and publish it, or base
another work upon it, without receiving special permission or paying
for any rights.
You are free to write a movie script (and film and produce a movie) of
this book; however, it must be based upon the book itself, and not any
modern play scripts. In other words, you cannot lift dialogue, or any
plot or story changes, from the modern play--without receiving special
permission from the play's copyright holder(s).
To learn more about public domain works, check out "When Works Pass
Into the Public Domain:" http://www.unc.edu/~unclng/public-d.htm .
For a general reference about copyright and what is considered "fair
use" of someone else's work, see "Copyright & Fair Use" at Stanford:
Researcher's personal knowledge
Google search: "public domain," "fair use"
Clarification of Answer by
06 Jan 2005 10:04 PST
A colleague just pointed out to me that ?Precious Bane? was not
published in the nineteenth century, as you mentioned in your
question. It was first published in 1924. (For just one source of this
information, see Literary Heritage: ?Precious bane, first published in
July 1924, was Mary Webb's fifth and last completed novel in a
literary career cut short by her death at forty-six.?
With this new information, the answer I provided may not be useful to
you...The true publication date indicates the novel may *or may not*
be in the public domain. Unfortunately, neither my colleague nor I was
able to determine with certainty whether or not ?Precious Bane? is in
the public domain, or where to the author?s estate may be contacted.
Therefore, you may wish to request a refund. You can find instructions
for doing this here: http://www.answers.google.com/answers/help.html