According to Internet Archive, the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska (Divine Mercy in My Soul) published by Marian Press, Stockbridge, MA in 2005, is in the PUBLIC DOMAIN.

St. Faustina died in Poland in 1938. An English translation of her Diary was not published until many years later. Based on the Preface of the above book (See: PDF), it looks like the first English edition was probably 1987 or a little later.

QUESTION: How is it that the above work is in the public domain in the United States?

Could Internet Archive be wrong? I am thinking, however, that they may be right because it is easy to find downloadable versions of this book online. See, for example, this site.

  • 1
    The source material originally published in Poland is probably out of copyright under the applicable Polish laws. Innovations from an English translation from the original language of the publication are probably not in the public domain.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Apr 30 at 19:57

2 Answers 2


The title page of the Internet Archive asserts that the book was published by Marian Press, and the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception assert copyright: https://marian.org/house/copyright.

Searching at https://www.copyright.gov/public-records/

I find a copyright registration record for the 3rd edition:

Registration Number / Date: TX0005274546 / 2000-09-01
Title:  Diary : Divine mercy in my soul / Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska.
Edition:    3rd ed. / with revisions.
Imprint:    Stockbridge, MA : Marians of the Immaculate Conception, 2000.
Description:    699 p.
Language:   Original Polish version prev. copyrighted 1981 English-language version first pub. 1987.

The search I did returned 10,000 records: someone with more interest could do a better search for other editions.

It is certainly suspicious that Marion Press did not include any publication date, or translation date, or registration claim, for the copy found at the Internet Archive, leading to the suspicion that it was a re-publication of an existing public-domain document, but they aren't required to do that: it just makes it more difficult to claim damages.

Not claiming copyright doesn't make a document Public Domain: it may indicate that, at the time of publication, the publisher wasn't interested in making copyright claims.

Copyright law in the USA was different before 1978. That doesn't seem to have any relivence here.

  • Do you know if registering the copyright is still required today? I know that books published prior to 1964 (or so) has 28 years in order to renew their copyright---but I'm not sure if that's still in effect. I thought that even if the stated book were first published in 1987, the renewal was no longer needed. But if I am reading your answer correctly, you seem to think that the copyright possibly was never registered?
    – DDS
    Commented Apr 30 at 14:31
  • Registration is not required for copyright under current US law (different before 1978 as the answer says). This is a very basic question that can be found in many online sources e.g. US gov.
    – Stuart F
    Commented May 2 at 13:11

If it is in the public domain, it is because it probably was not copyrighted or the copyright expired.

The version that was copyrighted is a different version and the layout and all that is what was copyrighted. That is different than the original.

  • 3
    How do you imagine it is possible that a book was created but not copyrighted?
    – bdb484
    Commented Apr 30 at 5:13
  • 3
    Which bit of which country's laws do you think makes "not being published or known" in any way relevant to the existence of copyright?
    – TripeHound
    Commented Apr 30 at 6:42
  • 3
    @Mimedfp The vast majority of the world are signatories to the Berne convention which grants copyright the moment a work is created. At least one country also has a system of copyright registration, but that doesn't establish copyright; it merely enhances what you can claim in the event of a breach.
    – TripeHound
    Commented Apr 30 at 14:40
  • 1
    @Mimedfp Not sure about "most people", but a court certainly would. It's a creative work, so the author has copyright. That's the law.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Apr 30 at 19:44
  • 1
    And to fill in the details, Poland joined the Berne Convention in 1920. So much of this diary was written when copyright was assigned automatically, not requiring registration.
    – Barmar
    Commented Apr 30 at 22:00

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