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Dr John

Copyright deceased father's diary?

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Once your father wrote the diary, he had copyright in it automatically.  He probably didn't register it with the copyright office, but registration isn't required to have copyright protection.  However,  registration does provide a copyright owner with some additional rights and remedies.

 

As a (presumably unpublished) work created before 1978, your father's unregistered copyright in the diary would extend for his lifetime plus 70 years.

Upon his death, the copyright could be bequeathed to his heirs.

 

The copyright owner can register a copyright at any time within the life of the copyright.

 

All that said, what are you trying to achieve?

 

 

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On 12/27/2018 at 11:15 AM, Dr John said:

May I copyright my deceased father's diary produced in 1944-45?

 

No.

 

In fact, you cannot "copyright" anything because "copyright" is not properly used as a verb.

 

 

On 12/27/2018 at 11:51 AM, MiddlePart said:

Once your father wrote the diary, he had copyright in it automatically.

 

While ultimately inconsequential for present purposes, that's incorrect.  He would have "had copyright in it automatically" if the diary had been written subsequent to 1/1/1978.  However, it was not the case in the mid-1940s.  Prior to the effective date of the Copyright Act of 1976, registration was a prerequisite to obtaining a copyright.  However, sections 302 and 303 of the Copyright Act provide that pre-1978 works are treated the same as post-1977 works in terms of duration (as long as they didn't fall into the public domain prior to 1/1/1978).

 

 

On 12/27/2018 at 11:15 AM, Dr John said:

He died in 1990.

 

Then the diary -- to the extent it contains content that could be protected by copyright -- will be protected until 2060.  Keep in mind that, if the diary contains nothing but facts, then it is not protectable by copyright.

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