Joyce copyright expires

Will I raise a glass to toast the Irish author’s long-awaited return to the public domain? Yes I said yes I will yes [Gordon Bowker, Independent, earlier here, here, and here]

But note: The jubilation is over the entry of the author’s work into the public domain in the European Union; in the United States most of the author’s writings remain tied up for a long time to come. Details here (thanks commenter JWB).


  • The copyrights to all of his works are still valid in the US, correct?

  • James Joyce died (per Wikipedia) on 13 Jan 1941. Current US law also is based on 70 years after the author’s death, but I am not sure whether the operative day is 1 Jan, 13 Jan, 14 Jan, 31 Dec., or something else.

  • Stanford Law’s Fair Use Project played a heroic role defeating one of Stephen Joyce’s most unreasonable claims in 2005. Someone should present FUP with an equestrian statue of author James Joyce; the rear of the steed could bear a recognizable resemblance to the litigious grandson. It could be an entirely web-based representation of an imaginary statue.

  • gives details on when different Joyce works will (or may – there are potential legal and/or factual disputes relevant to some of them) pass into the public domain in the U.S. Dubliners/Portrait of an Artist/other early stuff have long been public domain in the U.S. but are now also public domain in the U.K./Ireland and throughout the E.U.

  • One would hope that the awful history of the Joyce estate would be a lesson to advocates of ridiculously long terms of copyright. None of this nonsense served in any way to encourage Joyce to write or to provide him with sustenance. It didn’t even do much to provide financially for his heirs. The only change in copyright law that would have been of any benefit to him is the requirement, now eliminated, of registration.