Copyright expirations???? Whats in Public Domain

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  • Hello,

    I am an aspiring author. I am working on a Gilded Age book and was needing to know a few particulars.

    Question 1.
    If I find a magazine from 1910 or 1920 is everything in it public domain? I was told by someone anything published before 1924 was public domain and I need some clarification on this to be sure.

    Question 2.
    I also have found some pictures of works of art in magazines in 1920 and 1896 I would like to use. These works of art are in private hands today. Can I use say the image from the 1896 magazine in my book free and clear?

    Question 3.
    This may also get into trademark areas but maybe someone can help me. Take for example Hearst Castle in California. Lets say that the Castle image is trademarked today. Lets also say there is a picture of it from 1900 in a magazine, can I make this the cover of my book? Also I found an old tourist book that had a colored drawing of the castle from a book published in 1910, can this also be used without infringing on the trademark?

    many thanks for your advice in advance!!
  • The answer to Question 1 and 2 is the same: both of these items are now in the public domain, and you can use them without needing permission. The fact that someone owns the physical piece of art (question 2) does not impact the issue of copyright. Also regarding the date of the public domain. What you heard was off by one year. Anything published before 1923 (not 1924) in the United States is in the public domain. A helpful table for these types of questions is Peter Hirtle's Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States:

    I have no expertise in trademark law, so I'll leave question 3 to someone else!

    Hope this is helpful.

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