Hi again, copyguy,
Original 1950 U.S. copyrights could be renewed in 1977 or 1978. The
U.S. Copyright Office search form only searches works registered in
the Copyright Office since January 1, 1978 and it's possible that your
book was renewed in 1977. So, a good place to start is at the
following Rutgers website (assuming a U.S. copyright and a 1977
"This form searches the U. S. copyright renewal records. Any book
published during the years 1923-1963 which is found in this file is
still under copyright... Books published before 1923, or before Jan.
1, 1964 and not renewed, are out of copyright..."
"Note that a renewal may be shown on a book but only the preface,
illustrations, or translation are actually copyright. Sometimes this
is indicated with an abbreviation "NM" meaning "new matter". For
example, searching for charles dickens pickwick finds seven items, of
which four are only cross references. The remaining three specify as
"new matter" items such as illustrations, introductions, or an
afterword; the main text of Pickwick Papers is public domain (The
Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club was published in 1836-37, and
Charles Dickens died in 1870)."
If your book doesn't show up, you're probably golden but double-check
at the U.S. Copyright Office for a 1978 renewal. If it does show up on
either website, it's important to notice if there are any
abbreviations in the record. As noted above, the main body of the text
may be in the public domain, but any new matter isn't. If this is the
case with your book, you are free to use the text as you wish.
U.S. Copyright Office Search:
Abbrevations used in the Catalog of Copyright Entries
Data Fields in Copyright Cataloging Online Records
Copyright renewals for 1977
Copyright renewals made in 1977 will be available from this page.
Renewals in 1977 were classified by category.
Original copyrights date from 1949 and 1950. 1949 copyrights could
also be renewed in 1976, and 1950 copyrights could also be renewed in
1978. (For renewals in 1978 or later, search the Library of Congress'
online copyright database-- see this page for instructions.)
The Online Books Page
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can I Tell Whether a Book Can Go Online?
Another trick is to search for your book at the Gutenberg Project
website which only catalogues titles which are in the public domain (a
great website to know about anyway):
I'm glad to work on another question for you. As always, please let me
know if you have any questions.
My own bookmarks