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Internets. Help? I can't seem to find evidence that Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep is still under copyright. The US Copyright Office doesn't seem to have a record for it, which would mean it's under public domain. But it does have the film.
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Well, if you go by U.S. copyright laws on the author's death, works aren't released to the public domain until 70 years after the author's death. Raymond Chandler died in 1959, so by that general guideline, it would still be under copyright.

If you're going by publication dates, it's 95 years after publication, and since it was published in 1939, it would still be under copyright.

While it's not direct evidence regarding this particular work, current laws would suggest that it's still protected.
 
That's not actually the case for works published 1923 through 1963. It wholly depends on whether the copyright was renewed. If it was initially published with copyright notice, but it wasn't renewed, it's in public domain. If it was renewed, it's 95 years after publication.

According to what I'm seeing in the US Copyright Office records, it wasn't renewed. But that isn't necessarily accurate.

Life + 70 applies to unpublished works. Which definitely doesn't apply to The Big Sleep.
 
(Life + 70 also applies to anything published after 1977.)
 
And... Just figured it out. It was renewed. So it's 95 after publication. Unfortunately.
 
American copyright law is broken. But then, you already knew that.
 
My paychecks say, "The Walt Disney Corporation." So yeah :)
 
It's more complex in the case of some works, as I've banged into before, regarding the old renewal laws. It seems that there is LARGE number of works (mostly from the pulp era) that fell out of copyright for a few years and then were renewed ANYWAY despite the fact that they fell out of copyright for 2 years.

This led to some wonderful confusion and lawsuits... mostly with Conde Naste in the center of it (the bought up a number of old Pulp Publishing houses back in the day and were the ones that renewed copyrights after that 2 year gap).

Walter B. Gibson, author of 90% of the Shadow novels ended up in a legal battle with them in his waning years over it, which ended when he passed away, as work he had written 'for hire' was included in that 2 year gap. He republished some of them as paperback books, and then Conde claimed they owned them. Since he died before there was any court decisions, there is no firm legal precedent but Conde Naste lawyers pretty much send out cease and desist and shut folks down who have shared this material through the power of money.

There's also a huge muddled mess on recordings of old time radio shows from prior to the changes in the 1970s law that included audio broadcast performances, which previously were not covered under copyright law. This is still argued over today in the courts with no definitive legal precedent decisions over old time radio collector hobbyists who preserved old recordings from the era of radio (transcription discs, wire recordings, etc.) and were trading and then later in some cases selling or internet distributing copies.

American Copyright Law is a mess, and regularly is meddled with badly. Generally whoever has the biggest bankroll wins in the courts, even when they are wrong.
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