24 January 2013

The right copyright?

Currently I'm working on a few loose ends for Blood Witness to include with my next round of edits — acknowledgements, a pass at a back cover blurb, finessing my biography. One interesting curve ball that has come up is the question of rights for my quoting a verse of T.S. Eliot's 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock'. Despite having written a book about lawyers, it seems that this sort of obvious legal issue slipped my mind. So much for credibility there. Thankfully this is where my editor came in with a note about the quote.

There's a bit of confusion due to online sources claiming that Eliot's earlier poems, including Prufrock, are out of copyright in the UK and US and thus legally available online.  See the T S Eliot Society, Project Gutenberg  and sinister whipping boy, Google Books.

It's a question I expect should be relatively easily resolved by following up with Harper Collins, Eliot's rights holders in Australia. Hopefully the answer will be that there is no copyright or if there is that it's not too cost prohibitive. As the copyright holder of  Blood Witness I would have to personally pay for rights to use the quote — another legal issue but one I was aware of for a change.