Our last post discussed the subject of whether any of Hodgson’s works are currently under copyright. I received many fine emails on the subject and would like to share that information.
I was apparently incorrect in my belief that copyright followed an author for 75 years after their death. Jesse Willis pointed out to me that: “Stuff from 1920s to 1978 had to be renewed in its 28th year to not fall into the public domain (the law has changed since). It has nothing to do with the author’s death (in the USA).” So that means that most of Hodgson’s work would have had to have been renewed by 1948 which it was not. Jesse is still exploring the question about whether “The Hog”, originally published in WEIRD TALES in 1947, is public domain. I’ll post that update when we know. Personally, my feeling is that, regardless of copyright renewal, the story is in public domain because it has been reprinted so often that, should anyone wish to claim it now, the copyright would be invalid because it was not enforced. But, of course, I could be wrong.
So anyone can happily publish anything by Hodgson published before 1985, assuming that copyrights haven’t been renewed for anything that was ‘unpublished’ and published by R. Alain Everts or Sam Moskowitz during that time.
Also, Edward Lipsett (over at the WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON ENTHUSIASTS Facebook group) pointed me to an online site that had this to say:
Contact for William Hope Hodgson 1877-1918
William Hope Hodgson was killed in Flanders on 17 April 1918 and his estate passed by his will (probate London, 30 August 1918) to his widow Bessie Gertrude Hodgson. The will of Bessie Gertrude Hodgson (probate Manchester, 12 November 1943) bequeaths all her husband’s copyrights to his sister Lissie Hodgson. Lissie Sarah Hodgson died in Barnstable, Devon in May 1959, and her estate passed (adminstration London, 14 September 1959) to Arthur John Alfred Dudley. The will of Arthur John Alfred Dudley (probate Bristol, 30 July 1971) can also be consulted in the London Probate Office. All of William Hope Hodgson’s writings, published and unpublished, are out of copyright in the USA from 2003, but his unpublished manuscripts will remain in copyright in the UK until 2040.
Thanks to Edward for sharing this! So, bottom line, if you want to publish Hodgson, go for it!