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James Joyce: Copyright, Fair Use, and Permissions: Frequently Asked Questions

From: James Joyce Quarterly
Volume 44, Number 4, Summer 2007
pp. 753-784 | 10.1353/jjq.0.0023

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This FAQ is intended to acquaint scholars, performers, and adaptors of James Joyce’s work with the principles of copyright protection and users’ rights and to help them to productive interactions with the Estate of James Joyce in the event they choose to seek permissions to quote from, perform, or adapt Joyce’s work, and also to enable them to know better when copyright permissions are not legally necessary.

While a diligent effort has been made to learn about the Estate’s permissions practices and criteria from informed and voluntary sources, it has not been possible to obtain information concerning all copyright-related interactions that individuals or entities may have had with the Estate over the past several decades. The portion of the FAQ entitled “About the Estate” attempts to be descriptive of, but is in no way legally binding on, the Estate of James Joyce. The FAQ should be read as a set of general recommendations rather than as legal opinion or advice. The authors, the International James Joyce Foundation, its Board of Directors, the James Joyce Quarterly, and the University of Tulsa are not to be held legally responsible for actions undertaken by individuals, groups, companies, or institutions on the basis of the information or opinions contained in this FAQ. Because issues of international copyright law are notoriously complex and often unclear, we invite comments and corrections concerning the information offered below.

Note: details about copyright and fair use/fair dealing differ from country to country and are not generalizable from one country to another. Be sure that you are reading the section of the guidelines for a topic that is appropriate to the country or countries relevant to you.

About The Law

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

U.S.: material published in the U.S. 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.

E.U.: none of Joyce’s works is presently in the public domain. Possible exceptions are indicated below.

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?


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:

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.

Works created before 1 January 1978 and published between that date and 31 December 2002 will not enter the...

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