Dear Mr. Tanter:
You may be pleased to know that Emily Dickinson died in 1886. What
determines the copyright on a work of literature is the date of original
publication. The fact that Harvard University republished some of her
poems in 1955 would not give them any copyrights in the poems themselves
unless perhaps they included poems that had not been previously
published such as in the 1924 edition of her complete works published by
Little, Brown and Co.
We note too that Harvard would have copyrights to any prefaces,
introductions, indexes, and editorial notes that may have accompanied
their edition. We sincerely hope that you have not found such materials
in our files. We also sincerely hope that our presentation does not
infringe on the arrangement and selection process which Harvard
undertook, although I would think that the term "complete" attached to
the 1924 edition would be self-explanatory.
I also trust that you have also reviewed the files of the Copyright
Office of the Library of Congress to verify that whatever copyrights
Harvard may have had were properly renewed in or about 1983.
I am not personally an Emily Dickinson scholar, nor was I a party to
the posting of these poems. That certainly puts me at a disadvantage in
the face of someone such as you, whose scholarship is evidently more
familiar with that corpus of works. That being said, we look forward to
your response identifying precisely which poems are identical copies of
the Harvard poems without being identical to those found in any earlier
edition. We would be glad to make any adjustment to ensure that our
version of the poems conforms to the earlier version.
Should this response not be satisfactory, and you believe that the
material should be the subject of a take down order, please note that
such an order requires that you indicate a statement of your legal
standing in this matter in relation to either Miss Dickinson or Harvard
Yours very truly,
a Wikisource editor
I'm forwarding this to Foundation-l since
Wikisource has no list of
its own yet. Is anyone able to help with this issue or provide
comments on it please?
---- Forwarded message from tanter <tanter(a)tarleton.edu> ----
Subject: [Ticket#: 126217-FW] Emily Dickinson poems
>Hello. On your site, you have posted poems by Emily Dickinson at this
>http://wikisource.org/wiki/Author:Emily_Dickinson. You need to be aware
>these poems are NOT in the public domain. Harvard University owns the
>copyright to all of Emily Dickinson's poems published in the 1955 and
>editions of her poetry. The editions from the 1890s are public domain
>ones you seem to have posted are from the Harvard edition. I haven't had
>to go through them all, but I suggest you have an editor review this
>you may be violating copyright.