Copyright Status of the Writings of John Muir
Given that the majority of John Muir's Writings were published prior to 1923,
most of John Muir's writings - including most of his articles and books - are
in the "public domain" under U.S. copyright law. See Copyright
Term and the Public Domain in the United States by Peter
Hirtle, Cornell Copyright Information Center.
We have no information about the copyright status outside the United States - we understand that different countries have varying rules for determining public domain status. In different countries, here are differences in how national copyright laws define the duration of copyright and list the categories of works protected, which results in different definitions of the public domain on a country-by-country basis.
Additionally, we are aware of the following writings of John Muir which are NOT
in the public domain, and remain under copyright protection under U.S. law:
of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir edited by
Linnie Marsh Wolfe.
Copyright 1938 by Wanda Muir Hanna, copyright renewed 1966 by John Muir
Hanna and Ralph Eugene Wolfe. Thus it will be at least 2019 before this work
becomes public domain, unless Congress extends the copyright period again.
2. The Life and Letters of John Muir by
William Frederic Badè in
Copyright 1923, copyright for volume 1 renewed 1951 by John Muir
Hanna. Thus it will be at least 2019 before this work becomes public domain,
unless Congress extends it again.
3. Limbaugh, Ronald H. and Kirsten E. Lewis, editors, The
John Muir Papers,
1858-1957 MICROFORM, (Stockton, CA: University of the Pacific , 1980).
accompanying Guide (Alexandria, Virginia: Chadwyk Healey, 1986).
With 40 copies in libraries throughout the United States, and available to
scholars through interlibrary loan, this is the complete collection of all
extant Muir correspondence, manuscripts, notes, and illustrations.
See John Muir Papers,
University of the Pacific. You must pay a fee and obtain permission to reprint any of these documents.
In 1984, the Muir-Hanna Trust renewed the copyright on all of John Muir's unpublished
works, including his journals, drawings, letters, and manuscripts. This occurred
right before this material would have gone into the public domain, 70 years
after Muir's death in 1914. As the direct descendents of Muir, the Trust
was able to renew the copyright on unpublished works and this is why the "permission
to publish" form for the John
Muir Papers at the University of the Pacific
includes the credit line: "John Muir Papers, Holt-Atherton Special Collections,
University of the Pacific Library. Copyright 1984 Muir-Hanna Trust."
5. There may very well be additional writings of John Muir which were published
in 1923 or later for the first time. Any of those writings may still be under
Disclaimer: The Sierra Club can make no guarantee or representation of
the complete accuracy of the foregoing.
Readers are advised to determine copyright status of John Muir's writings with
legal counsel as may be appropriate. The following are the informed opinions
of the webmaster of the John Muir Exhibit, but necessarily does not constitute
legal advice nor does it claim to be authoritative.
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