Author talk:Lucy Maud Montgomery

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Your Wikisource page on Lucy Maud Montgomery says, at the bottom:

"Works by this author are now in the public domain because it originates from Canada and its term of copyright has expired. According to Canadian copyright law, all private copyrights expire fifty years after the year marking the death of the author. Government works are held under Crown copyright and expire fifty years after publication"

I don't claim to be an expert, but I believe this is wrong and could do a serious misservice to some people. I believe copyright works this way:

The Berne convention provides for copyright protection for published works for 50 years (roughly) after the death of the writer. Many, possibly most English-speaking countries (NOT including Canada) have tacked on an additional 20 years to that for a total of 70 years. The protection applies to the country where the work may be republished (for example). It does not depend on the nationality of the author or the country where the work was first published.

The following hypothetical example illustrates what I am saying:

George Bernard Shaw died on November 2, 1950, a citizen of the UK, I believe (he certainly wasn’t Canadian, at any rate). Since 2001 I believe I have been able to produce a version of his play "Arms and the Man" in Canada without obtaining rights from his estate; this would not violate copyright. I could even change the ending of the play if this is what I wanted. I could not, however, produce that play in the US, or sell my altered version of it there, without the permission of his estate, until January 1, 2021.

That's my view of copyright law, anyway.

David Nicholson davidnicholson@sympatico.ca