[open-science] when does literature go out of copyright?

Egon Willighagen egon.willighagen at gmail.com
Sat Oct 12 11:50:37 UTC 2013

Hi all,

I'm currently reading literature from 1937... seriously. To have
access to rather basic (pun intended) data on the pKa's of organic

Fortunately, I could get access to the paper I was interested in
without much effort, but it made me wonder on copyright law for
material under copyright with a publisher. You always here, so many
years after the author is dead. How does that work after copyright
reassignment? When does this 1937 paper go out of copyright?

(Of course, the cost of redistribution, editing, peer review, etc,
etc, of a research paper is mostly covered in a few years for non-OA
papers, I think that publishers would be brave to just make literature
older than, say, 25 years, gold OA by default. Or are there other
reasons not to do so, other than capatalizing on the knowledge
captured in it?)


Dr E.L. Willighagen
Postdoctoral Researcher
Department of Bioinformatics - BiGCaT
Maastricht University (http://www.bigcat.unimaas.nl/)
Homepage: http://egonw.github.com/
LinkedIn: http://se.linkedin.com/in/egonw
Blog: http://chem-bla-ics.blogspot.com/
PubList: http://www.citeulike.org/user/egonw/tag/papers
ORCID: 0000-0001-7542-0286

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