Copying a book and selling it online? Do copyrights expire?

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  • I have an old hardback book that is missing a few of its pages. I was looking at an online auction site and found someone selling a copy of the book. It is described as a high quality scan of the book. Is this allowed? Do copyrights expire? The book has copyright dates of 1947 & 1958.

    Thanks in advance.
  • Copyrights DO expire, but a book copyrighted 1947 and 1958 should still be under copyright in this country, unless the copyright was not renewed. Our Copyright Slider, at, will help you determine if something is under copyright or in the public domain. There are a growing number of companies that seek out items which are out of copyright and print copies on demand; if the item is out of copyright, this is perfectly legal and exactly what the public domain is for.

    If you just want to make photocopies of the pages that are missing and tip them into your book, you should be able to get a copy through your public library. I don't think this would be a violation of any copyright, since it's simply for your own use. Libraries do this all the time, but then libraries do have some special exemptions under copyright law.

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