Project Gutenberg has responded to claims from science fiction author Greg Bear and his wife Astrid Anderson Bear (daughter of sci-fi author Poul Anderson) that the public domain site may have infringed the rights of some authors and improperly put their work into the public domain.
In a letter addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Bear, Dr. Gregory B. Newby, chief executive and director of the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation explains in detail how works are selected for publication in the public domain and acknowledges that an error was made in regards to a story that was part of a series.
Here is an excerpt from the letter: “Our lawyer advised that our non-renewal determination for The Escape was in error. Therefore, on October 1, I removed The Escape from the Project Gutenberg collections and catalog and announced its removal to our mailing list. On behalf of Project Gutenberg, I apologize for the error.
The error occurred because we did not know that Brainwave was a complete publication of the serial parts of The Escape. We did know from the publication of The Escape in 1953 that it was the first part of a serialization, but did not know that Brainwave, from 1954, was the title of the complete serialization.
We are working on enhancements to our procedures for serial works so that we are more likely to find variations in titles such as happened with Brainwave.”
The letter goes on to explain Gutenberg’s new policy on checking copyright dates. Follow this link to read the entire letter.