Does copyright still apply when holder no longer exists

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  • I have a book, copyright of National Sales Executives, inc., New York - printed in 1953. I have researched the internet for details of this company and it appears that their last books were printed in 1961 and there is no reference or contact details for them anywhere to be found.

    Does the copyright still apply, or is there a time frame that holds the copyright up even though the owners no longer exist?

    Many thanks.
  • What you have there is an orphan item -- and US law still hasn't found the ideal way to deal with those. You might check with a business library to see if National Sales Executives changed their name or were absorbed into another company or organization. Other than that, as an orphan work, you can use it as long as you are prepared to halt your use if a current rights holder steps forward. Your willingness to take the risk may depend on what you want to do with the item. Do you just want to quote from it -- something that would be covered by fair use even if it were still under copyright -- or were you planning to scan the whole thing and put it up on the internet? If it's somewhere between those extremes, there may be a risk.

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