James Joyce Stirs a Copyright Debate



Can you copyright something that didn't get published? After you die, can someone else reserve copyright on something that only scholars have ever viewed? When time expires on the published works of an author, does that mean everything they ever wrote (published or not) enters the public domain? Curious questions, right. The gist of this dispute centers around whether or not something that has not been published can ever "go out of copyright."

Now that James Joyce has been dead long enough, his works are in the public domain. This has spurred a publisher in Dublin to act upon something found in the unpublished archives, which was a story Joyce composed in a private letter. Hence, you get the story "The Cats of Copenhagen."

As confusing as all this is, look for the decision to reverberate throughout the publishing world, electronic or otherwise.