Rationale for the complete rewrite:
"The copyright or patent on the work has expired." The actual formula is max(1923, year of first publication + 96) in the U.S. and year of death + 71 in the E.U.
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I converted these to paragraphs because added detail made them too long for the purposes that
was designed to handle. "The author or inventor explicitly disclaims any proprietary interest." Not necessarily. Some law experts believe that it's impossible for an author to put a copyrightable work into PD. (Anyone have a source for this?) Even then, it's still a really Bad Idea for an author to release a work into PD, as it fails to disclaim implied warranty and opens the author up to liability. Better to release it under a simple permissive license similar to the new BSD license. --Damian Yerrick
As much as I happen to agree with the "monopoly" chant, repeating it over and over is clearly biased; I'm going to neutralize the wording a bit. --Lee Daniel Crocker
I didn't intend the word "monopoly" to show bias but used it merely to distinguish such artificial rights from birth rights. Calling such rights "intellectual property" sets up a false analogy with physical property that United States law (for example) does not recognize; it's a good thing you didn't bias it up the other way.
And the soft line breaks after sentences serve a purpose: they make the diffs much cleaner. --Damian Yerrick
Can we have an example other than Mark Twain?: one story of his wasn't published in his lifetime, and finally appeared in 2001, so it's still in copyright. --Vicki Rosenzweig
What about Translation and Editing of old texts? Translations are obviously under copyright (for whatever time) and edited versions of texts (including Shakespeare, for instance) are copyright. For instance, a nasty old Shakespeare text from 1900 may be public domain, but the Riverside Shakespeare publishes an original editing, so you can't copy that one, presumably. --MichaelTinkler