1952 Russian book & copyright

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  • I received a gift of books in Russian, published in Russia. Among them are 2 nicely-bound photocopies of books published in 1952 and a photocopy of a book of sheet music from 1955. Are these photocopies all right to add to our collection, or not?
  • Kim - we do have an international copyright specialist in our copyright team. I may see her tonight and ask that she respond. (We are currently at the same conference in Quebec). She loves these kind of questions!

    What I do know (or think I know is this) --
    Assuming that there are no special weird things going on....Russia is probably a member country of the Berne Convention. Under that international treaty, member countries agree to treat other nations publications the same way as they would treat their own. In other words, if you live in US and have a Russian publication, follow US law.

    So of course, the US copyright law is silent about adding photocopies to a library collection. But we can fudge a bit and think about section 108 in general and when/how/if libraries can make reproductions of materials. Under certain conditions, yes. But whenever we make a photocopy for a patron, that photocopy should remain with the patron. It is his personal property -- the copy is not suppose to go anywhere else. Even if he made his own copy, the law assumes this copy is for personal use, research study etc -- not to add to a library to increase their collection.

    So I would say - don't add the photocopy. It's okay to add the book. There may be a fair use argument, but not knowing the details, we can't give a good analysis.

    Let's see what our international expert has to say on the matter.

    -carrie russell
  • According to the US Copyright Office, Russia is indeed a signatory to Berne (see http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ38a.pdf). In addition, if I read the footnotes correctly, each of the former Soviet republics is "a successor state" to the Soviet Union, and so maintains their bilateral responsibilities. I found the language a little confusing, though, so you might want to read it carefully yourself before making a decision.
  • Hello,

    My apologies for the slight delay, due to being away at a conference last week. This is to add to Carrie's and Freya's helpful replies. In order to know for sure whether the works in question are under copyright today in the U.S., more information will be needed. In particular we need to know whether the dates of 1952 and 1955 were the dates of FIRST publication of the works (or by contrast the dates of later editions), confirmation that the works were first published in Russia or the former Russian republic of the USSR, and the names of the authors and their death dates if deceased, in order to determine whether the works were restored to copyright in the U.S. when the TRIPS Agreement took effect in the U.S. requiring copyright restoration for works originating in the Russian Federation, and many other countries, on January 1, 1996.

    If the works are protected in the U.S. today, then, as Carrie explains, we need to apply U.S. law to this situation. In general, it would not be permissible to add to a library collection by means of acquiring photocopies of copyrighted works. If we can detemine that the works are in the public domain, this would be permissible.

    If you would like to send me the bibliographic details on these works, I will be most happy to follow up and take this further. My e-mail is pilch@uiuc.edu. I look forward to helping you further with this query!

    Janice Pilch
  • Thanks everyone. I'm corresponding off-list with Janice Pilch to follow up on her suggestions. --Kim

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