RE: Help with who owns copyright

From: Cumbow,Robert-SEA <CUMBR[_at_]perkinscoie.com>
Date: Mon, 23 Sep 96 11:43:00 PDT

Sue Medina wrote:
>
> A library has been given someone's personal files. He gave the
> university rights to the copyright. The files include his
> correspondence--so the University owns the copyright for his letters.
>
> Who owns the copyright of letters written to him?
>
> The library would like to create a website with these materials. Can
> it include letters written to him, or will it have to get the permission
> of the people who orginally wrote the letters?
>
> If the dates of letters predate changes in the copyright assigning
> copyright with a statement of copyright, are these letters without
> copyright if the do not have a copyright statement or the c in a circle
> symbol?

Copyright in a letter belongs to the AUTHOR of the letter, not the recipient; so, yes, the University should obtain permission from the people who originally wrote the letters. If the letters were written 1979 or later, they do not need a copyright notice to be protected by copyright. If they predate 1979, they still do not need a copyright notice unless they were previously published (which is very unlikely in the case of personal letters). Thus the university should assume that the copyright in these letters belongs to their original authors and should not publish them without permission.

This is not intended as legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. Please consult your favorite local IP attorney to ensure that you protect your own rights and respect those of others as you proceed in this matter.

Bob Cumbow
<cumbr[_at_]perkinscoie.com> Received on Mon Sep 23 1996 - 18:53:37 GMT

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