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Copyright Status of the Writings of John Muir


Given that the majority of John Muir's Writings were published prior to 1923, most of John Muir's writings - including most of his articles and books - are in the "public domain" under U.S. copyright law. See Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States by Peter Hirtle, Cornell Copyright Information Center.

However, we are aware of the following writings of John Muir which are NOT in the public domain, and remain under copyright protection under U.S. law:

1. John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir edited by Linnie Marsh Wolfe.
Copyright 1938 by Wanda Muir Hanna, copyright renewed 1966 by John Muir Hanna and Ralph Eugene Wolfe. Thus it will be at least 2019 before this work becomes public domain, unless Congress extends it yet again.

2. The Life and Letters of John Muir by William Frederic Badè in Two volumes.
Copyright 1924, copyright for volume 1 renewed 1951 by John Muir Hanna. Thus it will be at least 2019 before this work becomes public domain, unless Congress extends it yet again.

3. Limbaugh, Ronald H. and Kirsten E. Lewis, editors, The John Muir Papers, 1858-1957 MICROFORM, (Stockton, CA: University of the Pacific , 1980).
With accompanying Guide (Alexandria, Virginia: Chadwyk Healey, 1986). With 40 copies in libraries throughout the United States, and available to scholars through interlibrary loan, this is the complete collection of all extant Muir correspondence, manuscripts, notes, and illustrations. See John Muir Papers, University of the Pacific.

4. In 1984, the Muir-Hanna Trust renewed the copyright on all of John Muir's unpublished works, including his journals, drawings, letters, and manuscripts. This occurred right before this material would have gone into the public domain, 70 years after Muir's death in 1914. As the direct descendents of Muir, the Trust was able to renew the copyright on unpublished works and this is why the "permission to publish" form for the John Muir Papers at the University of the Pacific includes the credit line: John Muir Papers, Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library. Copyright 1984 Muir-Hanna Trust.

5. There may very well be additional writings of John Muir which were published in 1923 or later for the first time. Any of those writings may still be under copyright protection.

Disclaimer: The Sierra Club can make no guarantee or representation of the complete accuracy of the foregoing.
Readers are advised to determine copyright status of John Muir's writings with legal counsel as may be appropriate. The following are the informed opinions of the webmaster of the John Muir Exhibit, but necessarily does not constitute legal advice nor does it claim to be authoritative.

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