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Friday, 1 August 2003

COPYRIGHT FOR ZOMBIES?

Ananova reports that two dozen people who have been wrongly declared dead have held a Hindu last rites ceremony outside the Uttar Pradesh State Assembly in India in protest at the State’s refusal to recognize that they are still very much in the land of the living. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg and it is claimed the 35,000 people in that province alone are affected. Many of the mix-ups occurred when the victims’ families have declared them dead in order to claim the supposedly deceased’s land or property. One unfortunate gentleman even managed to run for prime-ministerial office twice but could not persuade the authorities to recognise that he was alive. The IPKat wonders what the implications would be if any of the “undead” happened to be copyright holders. Under the 1957 Act, copyright lasts for 60 years from the death of the author so if the author is wrongly declared dead, will the clock start running from the date of the wrongful declaration? If so, while the crafty family members may get the “deceased’s” tangible property earlier, they will be shortening the duration of any copyright that they inherit.

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