At right, the cover for the first edition of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, which featured the first appearance of that martini-drinking secret agent with a license to kill. (Photo gallery of Casino Royale‘s various covers found on the Guardian). Here’s an excellent essay from Duke University’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain:
Casino Royale, Marilyn Monroe’s Playboy cover, The Adventures of Augie March, the Golden Age of Science Fiction, Crick & Watson’s Nature article decoding the double helix, Disney’s Peter Pan, The Crucible…
Current US law extends copyright protections for 70 years from the date of the author’s death. (Corporate “works-for-hire” are copyrighted for 95 years.) But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years (an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years). Under those laws, works published in 1953 would be passing into the public domain on January 1, 2010.
What might you be able to read or print online, quote as much as you want, or translate, republish or make a play or a movie from? How about Casino Royale, Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel? Fleming published Casino Royale in 1953. If we were still under the copyright laws that were in effect until 1978, Casino Royale would be entering the public domain on January 1, 2010 (even assuming that Fleming had renewed the copyright). Under current copyright law, we’ll have to wait until 2049. This is because the copyright term for works published between 1950 and 1963 was extended to 95 years from the date of publication, so long as the works were published with a copyright notice and the term renewed (which is generally the case with famous works such as this). All of these works from 1953 will enter the public domain in 2049.
Read More from the Center for the Study of the Public Domain