The In Custodia Legis blog at the Library of Congress posts today about the controversial copyright history of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings saga. The novel, originally published in the 1950s, was published in paperback for the first time in 1965 by Ace Paperbacks. The U.S. paperback publication was not authorized by Tolkien or his publishers, but due to the somewhat confusing state of U.S. copyright law at the time, Ace Paperbacks erroneously believed that the copyright on the novel had expired, placing the work in the public domain in the United States. Tolkien and his publishers disputed this contention, and the first authorized paperback edition was subsequently published by Ballantine Books. In addition to shedding light on some of the backstory behind the publication of The Lord of the Rings, the article also provides a useful overview of the history and evolution of copyright law in the United States. Read the full article here.
Reposted from In Custodia Legis.