Unitarian minister and blogger Andrew Brown today posted a scanned PDF of the only in-depth biography of Universalist pioneer George de Benneville. I feel a bit bad because I’ve owned a copy for years — he paid dearly for his — and I never put it up.
He alludes to the problem of copyright — it was copyrighted in 1953. Now, since it was of that vintage, if it was never renewed, the work is in the public domain, and has been since 1981. That’ll take some research, but I think it’s a safe bet.
But if it was renewed and a copyright owner cannot be found, then this handy booklet becomes an orphan work and becomes good for nobody: not the unknown owner of the intellectual property and not good for historians, students or the general public who could not republish it. This is a serious intellectual property issue, and needs a remedy.
Until then, do download the book. (Again, I’d bet it’s in the public domain.) And I’ll scan my collection of mid-century Universalist imprints to see if there’s anything also orphaned but likely out of copyright.