Can a UK book that is out of copyright be covered by US copyright

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  • I have a book that is very popular that was first published in the United Kingdom in 1948. 

    The term of author’s copyright under the U.K. Copyright Act 1842 - which protected only printed works and is applicable to books published before 1st January 1978 in the U.K. - was 42 years from the publication of the work, or the lifetime of the author and seven years thereafter, whichever was the longer.


    As Anthony Borgia died in 1989, this could mean this book, first published in 1948 and which was published in the U.K., copyright expired in the later of:

    in 1990 being 42 years after publication or

    in 1996 being 7 years after his death.


    But on his death he passed copyright in all his works to a Marjorie Hesford. In 1995, a year before the UK copyright expired, she registered serveal of them with the US Copyright Office:



    Type of Work: Text

    Registration Number / Date: TX0005606849 / 2001-07-11

    Title: Heaven and Earth / by Anthony Borgia.

    Edition: 1995 ed.

    Imprint: London : Two Worlds, 1995.

    Description: 129 p.

    Notes: First pub. 1948.

    Copyright Claimant: Marjorie Hesford

    Date of Publication: 1948

    Copyright Note: C.O. correspondence.

    Reg. under GATT/URAA restoration.

    Names: Borgia, Anthony Vincent, -1989

    Hesford, Marjorie

    My question is, does she still hold a valid US copyright to these books? According to that copyright claim, the books were not published in the US at all.

    Thank you.

  • Short answer is yes.

    Check out this Circular by the US Copyright Office:

    "To be eligible, a work must meet all of the following requirements:

    1 At the time the work was created, at least one author (or rightholder in the case of a sound recording) must have been a national or domiciliary of an eligible source country. An eligible source country is a country, other than the United States, that is a member of the WTO, a member of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, or subject to a presidential proclamation restoring U.S. copyright protection to works of that country on the basis of reciprocal treatment of the works of U.S. nationals or domiciliaries.


    So, by being a member of the Berne Convention, the UK receives "reciprocal treatment"

    You'll see the note "Reg. under GATT/URAA restoration." which refers to the restoration explained in the Circular.


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