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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 118085
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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My question involves a personal letter written by

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My question involves a personal letter written by a person in 1911 to another person. The letter-writer died in 1964. The letter is now in the British Library (recipient died in 1953).

Is the letter considered in public domain since it was written prior to 1923? Or, do I have to wait until 70 years beyond 1964 (2034) before it''s open to public domain?

Attornies for the letter''s writer''s estate has told me that "they take no position" regarding offering permission to me to publish this letter. They say giving permission falls outside the scope of their responsibility. So, since the estate itself doesn''t want to tell me what I can and cannot do, I feel wary of any possible success in publishing this letter in a book. Any thoughts you could offer would be welcome.
Unless the letter was actually copyrighted, it is not subject to the copyright laws. The only laws involved would be the right to privacy laws. If the letter is on display at a museum, it is unlikely that there is an privacy right involved since it is already published in a sense. If the estate tries to sue over use of the letter, it would have to prove that the letter was copyrighted, if not it is highly unlikely they will be able to make a case for infringement.

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