Public Domain Works & GBS

Getting sick of Public Domain Works not appearing in GBS? There is much more to the story sometimes than you would think!

Eoin Purcell

Cross Posted @ Uncovered History

Search Max Weber and see what happens
Here is the result when you search with no limits here is the result when you limit your search to full view books. Here is a biography for Weber. He died in 1920 and so by any stretch his work is out of copyright, in the public domain and ought by rights to be free to view in a scheme like Google’s yet you cannot find a copy. What is going on?

How does Google Define Full View?
Here’s how:

Full View

You can see books in Full View if the book is out of copyright, or if the publisher or author has asked to make the book fully viewable. The Full View allows you to view any page from the book, and if the book is in the public domain, you can download, save and print a PDF version to read at your own pace.

Is there no work from this period in a library in the scheme?
This is the current list of Library Partners in Google’s Book Search program. At random I tested the catalogue of three of them.
The University of Virginia has in its archive a 1927 Edition of Weber’s General Economic History published by Greenberg in 1927.
Columbia has a similar edition
New York Public Library has the same edition too.

And then it occurred to me: what about the translator
And therein lies the solution. Weber was writing originally in German and the translator for this edition was Frank H Knight who’s bio is here. When you realise that, it all makes sense. The translation copyright therefore is not in the public domain! Such is life!

Digging and digging, finding out stuff,

5 thoughts on “Public Domain Works & GBS

  1. eoin, this is a common minefield for PD works, as I am sure you know. never an easy terrain, but peter hirtle, cornell law, has an excellent overview of what is theoretically in the PD, and what is not, on year/registration basis. of course anytime someone “touches” a work through translation, insertion of a new preface, or critical commentary, a new work is almost inevitably produced.

  2. Peter,

    Thanks for the comment. It is a minefield and to an extent a fair enough one, the translator obviously deserves reward for their work.

    That’s a great chart alright!


  3. Tell me about it. I’ve been trying to republish a bunch of stuff which is really old, but only translated into English in the last 50 years. As I can’t afford to fund a new translation, I’m stuck.

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