I have a book in French published in Canada, copyright 1997. The author died in 1998 in Louisiana. I know that 2 of his 4 siblings are deceased and have not been successful in finding any info on the other 2. I cannot find anything on the publisher. So, I assume the publisher has ceased operations. What do you advise if I would like to publish a translation?
For some reason, many people assume that a deceased author’s work is up for grabs once they die, even if their heirs can’t be located, and if the publisher has gone out of business. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Would you walk into a deceased person’s home, and start taking things? No, you would not. You would know that the person’s assets belong to his or her heir(s).
His heirs own the rights to his book. You can’t republish it without permission, even if you translate it.
Never, Ever Assume You Can Use a Deceased Person’s Work
Angela Hoy lives on a mountain in North Georgia. She is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the President and CEO of BookLocker.com and AbuzzPress, and the author of 24 books.
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HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT SELF-PUBLISHING A BOOK?
a self-publishing services company that has been in business since 1998. Ask her anything.
I can’t believe someone would embarrass themself by asking such a question. Of course you can’t just use someone else’s work. Copyright is good for a hundred years and writers should know that.