Re: Hawthorn Books

From: Gregg L. Jansen/DELCO <GLJANSEN[_at_]>
Date: Wed, 18 Sep 1996 12:17:29 +0000

> I need to get permission to use old (turn of the century) photos of
> clowns Footit and Chocolat, which appeared in the publication Clowns
> by John H Towsen, published by Hawthorn Books Inc, New York in 1976.
> Apparently Hawthorn Books have ceased publishing. So can anyone tell
> me if their list has been taken over by anyone else, and if so contact
> details for that company. Also any details for John H Towsen.
> I need this information as soon as possible, please! All assistance
> gratefully received.
> Many thanks
> Gara Baldwin
> Rights & Permissions Officer
> Powerhouse Museum
> Sydney, Australia
> garab[_at_]


In the U.S., the first step in tracking down Hawthorn Books would be to search the records of the U.S. Copyright Office. They can be reached at:

   United States Copyright Office
   Library of Congress
   James Madison Memorial Building
   101 Independence Ave., S.E.
   Washington, D.C. 20559-6000
   Phone: (202) 707-3000

You can search Copyright Office records on the web, at

(through the Library of Congress). I tried this morning, but only found the info that you already have. I couldn't telnet to their site, I think the problem is in my machine. You can also pay them to do a search for you. What should you look for? They have records of all copyright registrations, which might be helpful if a new owner (assuming there is one) has registered the work in its own name. The Copyright Office also has records of transfers of ownership, but this may or may not be helpful, as there is no requirement that transfers be recorded in the Office (unfortunately, I was unable to access these transfer records). If that route fails, you might have to try other routes. The Copyright Clearance Center Online ( is a permission provider that licenses literary works. I tried it also, but found nothing. I would further suggest the Author's Registry (e-mail at "registry[_at_]"). They do not have Web access, but they claim that their directory can be searched by phone.

If Hawthorn was dissolved, merged with another, or just bought out, you will probably have to consult the Secretary of State of the state in which Hawthorn is incorporated (it is getting more complicated, no?). The first question is, how do I find the state in which it is incorporated? I have never tried to find such information out, but here is what I would try, for what its worth. First, try a publication such as Moody's (I forget the complete title), which I believe lists all corporations in the U.S., including pertinent info about the corporation. This may be difficult to find in Australia, but ask at your local library. Second, there is a (U.S.) publication called "Literary Marketplace," that contains a mountain of info about the U.S. publishing industry. It is published by R.R. Bowker, New Jersey, and it might be of help. You might also ask the reference department of your local library for help tracking down Hawthorn Books. They might have other resources that will help.

I have alot of interest in this area, as I am currently working on a paper that focuses on what to do if the owner of a copyright cannot be found. Unfortunately, the U.S. system has no requirement of recordation of ownership transfers, so tracking a copyright when a publisher folds up can be difficult. There is no provision for allowing someone to use a copyright if the owner cannot be found. I am interested in knowing more about your situation, as I would like to include actual examples of this problem in my paper. Please let me know more details, and if I can include such details in my paper (I can omit names if desired).

Disclaimer: I am just a lowly law student at Indiana University School of Law, and the above is not legal advice. Consult an attorney specializing in copyrights if you need to. Good luck with your search.

Gregg Jansen
gljansen[_at_] Received on Thu Sep 19 1996 - 21:05:57 GMT

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