Joyce Works in Copyright and in the Public Domain

Q: Which of Joyce's works are in the public domain under which copyright regimes? 


United States of America

Material published in the United States before 1923 (U.S. first editions of Chamber Music, Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Exiles; also, the episodes of Ulysses as published in the Little Review). 

In addition, works published prior to 1923 outside of the U.S., and bearing a copyright notice, are now in the public domain in the U.S. For that reason, and for additional reasons connected with U.S. copyright law as it existed in 1922, the 1922 Paris first edition of Ulysses is arguably in the public domain in the U.S. (See Robert Spoo, "Copyright Protectionism and Its Discontents: The Case of James Joyce’s Ulysses in America," Yale Law Journal, vol. 108 (December 1998), 633-67.)

The situation with respect to works published prior to 1923 outside of the U.S. without a copyright notice is more complex. According to most commentators and in light of a recent legislative change to U.S. copyright law, these works are most likely also in the public domain in the U.S. Unfortunately, judicial decisions have not yet dealt with the legislative change in this particular context, and so this cannot be stated with certainty at this point. 

European Union, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland

All editions of Joyce's works published during his lifetime are in the public domain in these countries. An exception appears to be Spain, which has a copyright term of the author's life plus 80 years. Joyce's lifetime-published works will remain in copyright there until the end of 2021.

Canada and Australia

All editions of Joyce's works published during his lifetime are in the public domain. 
 

Q: According to present copyright terms, when will Joyce's still-copyrighted published works enter the public domain under various copyright regimes? 


United States of America

For works published between 1923 and the end of 1977, 95 years after the year of first publication (provided that for editions published in the U.S., the work was published with a copyright notice and copyright in works published between 1923 and the end of 1963 was renewed). The following is a non-exhaustive list of examples: 

Pomes Penyeach (1927)                    enters public domain 1 January 2023 
Ulysses (1934: Random House)           enters public domain 1 January 2030 (*) 
Finnegans Wake (1939)                      enters public domain 1 January 2035 (*) 
Stephen Hero (1944)                           enters public domain 1 January 2040 (**) 
Letters I (1957)enters public domain 1 January 2053 
Critical Writings (1959)                       enters public domain 1 January 2055 
Ulysses (1961: Random House)           enters public domain 1 January 2057 (*) 
The Cat and the Devil (1964)               enters public domain 1 January 2060 
Letters II and III (1966)                        enters public domain 1 January 2062 
Giacomo Joyce (1968)                         enters public domain 1 January 2064 
Joyce's Ulysses: Notesheets 
in the British Museum (1972)                enters public domain 1 January 2068 
Selected Letters (1975)                       enters public domain 1 January 2071 
The James Joyce Archive  
(through 1977)                                    enters public domain 1 January 2073 


(*) Over the years, questions have been raised as to whether, or to what extent, the 1934 and 1961 Random House editions of Ulysses enjoy copyright protection in the U.S. While this FAQ takes no position on the issue, the expiration dates above are offered with this qualification in mind. 

(**) The 2040 date applies to the parts of Stephen Hero that were published in 1944. The small sections that were added for the first time in 1955 and 1963 will likely enjoy copyright protection until 1 January 2051 and 1 January 2059, respectively. 

It is important to note, with respect to Stephen Hero and other printings of Joyce’s works, that a different copyright term may apply to any forematter or other material created by introducers or editors. The copyrights in such non-Joyce materials are likely held by individuals or entities other than the Joyce Estate.


For works created before 1 January 1978 and published between that date and 31 December 2002, the work will not enter the U.S. public domain before 1 January 2048. Examples include material by Joyce that was first published in the following texts: 

The James Joyce Archive (after 1977)              

enters public domain 1 January 2048 

Joyce & Hauptmann: "Before Sunrise" (1978)    

enters public domain 1 January 2048 

Joyce's Letters to Sylvia Beach (1987) 

enters public domain 1 January 2048 

Poems and Shorter Writings (1991

enters public domain 1 January 2048 (*) 

Poems and "Exiles" (1992)                              

enters public domain 1 January 2048 



(*) These dates pertain only to works by Joyce published in these volumes for the first time. Works by Joyce published before 1923 are in the public domain in the U.S. as long as they have not been re-edited for inclusion in the collection. If you wish to reprint or quote substantially from such works, you should go to the pre-1923 versions to ensure public-domain status (i.e., to ensure you are not using a version that can claim any new copyright protection as a result of re-editing).


The case of Ulysses: The Corrected Text (1984; 1986) requires special treatment. If this edition was a derivative work made for hire by Hans Walter Gabler for the Estate of James Joyce, the U.S. copyright in the edition would last for 95 years from the year of first publication, or until 1 January 2080. However, with respect to manuscript materials published for the first time in this edition, those materials might be viewed as separately entering the U.S. public domain on 1 January 2048, pursuant to the rule in the preceding paragraph. 



European Union, United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland

All editions of Joyce's works published during his lifetime entered the public domain as of January 1, 2012 (except in Spain, as noted above and below).  

Generally, for editions published during the author's lifetime, the copyright term in the E.U. is 70 years after the calendar year of the author's death. In Spain, the copyright term for certain older works, including Joyce's, is author's life plus 80 years. In France, as a result of special provisions made for artists whose careers were affected by the World Wars, copyright is sometimes deemed to last for the duration of the author's life plus more than 80 years (though this may not affect any of Joyce's works). The copyright laws of each country should be separately consulted.

In the United Kingdom, works published posthumously enjoy a copyright term of 50 years from the year of first publication. This would suggest that the parts of Stephen Hero that were published in 1944 entered the public domain in the U.K. on January 1, 1995 and that the section that was added for the first time in 1955 (1956 in the U.K.) entered on January 1, 2006 (or did so on January 1, 2007, if the U.K. publication date applies). The section that was added for the first time in 1963 will likely enter the U.K. public domain on January 1, 2014. It is important to note, with respect to Stephen Hero and other printings of Joyce's works, that a different copyright term may apply to any forematter or other material created by introducers or editors. Giacomo Joyce (1968) would enter the U.K. public domain on January 1, 2019. Other E.U. countries may have different terms, however. The Republic of Ireland, for example, appears to subject both lifetime-published and posthumously-published works to a term of author's life plus 70 years. Under such a provision, Ulysses, Stephen Hero, and Giacomo Joyce all entered the Irish public domain on January 1, 2012.


Canada and Australia 

All editions of Joyce’s works published during his lifetime entered the public domain as of the end of 1991. 

Posthumously published works entered or will enter the public domain 50 years (Canada) or 70 years (Australia) after the end of the calendar year in which they were first published. 

In January 2005, a U.S.–Australia Free Trade Agreement extended certain copyright terms in Australia. This extension did not affect works, such as Joyce’s lifetime-published editions, that had entered the Australian public domain prior to January 2005. 

Updated April 2012
 

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