Schenectady, NY asked in Copyright for New York

Q: How can we protect ancestral journals and letters?

We have several journals and letters from 1850-1920 written by family members (all deceased). We are in the process of retyping these and putting into PDF format for immediate family members. We would also like to make these available to more distant relatives and possibly parts to any local historical group that may be interested. How can we protect these to ensure no one makes any money from them? Can these be copyrighted by us if we are not the original authors? They have been handed down from generation to generation but there is nothing specific in a will to state who inherited these.

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
Will Blackton
Will Blackton pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Raleigh, NC

A: A will does not have to specifically bequest intellectual property rights for those rights to pass to heirs. If, for example, father gives everything he owns to son, his son inherits the intellectual property rights in his letters and journals. Son could apply for copyright protection from the U.S. Copyright office as the claimant, describing how he acquired the rights in the transfer statement.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.