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  • I know I've seen this topic discussed, but just can't relocate it now that we need it:

    We have been contacted by a writer who is doing a biography on a famous author who happens to be an alum of our college. While a student, this future author wrote for our student literary magazine in 1945, and the writer wants to use a couple of these stories in the biography she is writing. My question is, do we (the college) hold the rights to grant permission or must the writer get such permission from this former student?

    Thanks -
  • It's possible that those stories from 1945 are in the public domain. Works published between 1923 and 1977 without a proper copyright notice, along with works published between 1923 and 1963 that were published with proper notice but did not have the copyright renewed, are now in the public domain. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that stories in a student literary magazine from 1945 might fall into one of these two categories.

    Can you get your hands on the literary magazine in question? Take a look and see if there is a copyright notice, and if so, what it says.

    If you can't get a copy of the original magazine, I think you're probably in a gray area. It's possible that the former student still holds the copyright, and it's possible that the work is in the public domain. I think it's unlikely that the school holds the copyright in the stories, in which case the author will have to track down the former student to ask for permission.

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