Information about copyright rules

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The contents of this page are intended as helpful guidance only. Nothing here should be taken as legal advice, and nothing here guarantees that any particular text or class of texts is suitable for LibriVox or for distribution on the Internet in general.


For a literary work to be eligible for inclusion in the LibriVox catalogue, it must be in the public domain in the United States of America. It is also advised that it should be in the public domain in the country where the volunteer wishing to record it resides.

This page gives guidance on the copyright status of works from a number of countries, which is intended to help members identify recordings which are eligible for inclusion in the catalogue.


Things to note

Anonymous works

In the information below, reference may be made to works which are "anonymous". An anonymous work is one where the identity of the author has never been declared to the general public. The fact that the identity of the author of a work may be hard to ascertain does not necessarily make it "anonymous".

Rounding up to the New Year

Copyright rules will often state that a work enters the public domain so many years after the death of the author, or so many years after publication. This normally means that the work will enter the public domain on 1st January of the year following the anniversary of that event.

For example: in the United Kingdom, copyright is generally spoken of as expiring "70 years after the death of an author". This really means: "at the beginning of the seventy-first year after the death of the author". George Orwell died on 21st January 1950. This means that his works will come into the public domain in the United Kingdom on 1st January 2021 (seventy-one years after the beginning of the year following his death).