The Economist is a weekly magazine, where articles are never signed by authors. Is it then enough that the magazine itself is in the public domain? I have come across posts like this one stating that individual articles might be further protected under copyright. But if I do not know the author, how can I know?

2 Answers 2


...articles are never signed by authors. Is it then enough that the magazine itself is in the public domain?

Absolutely not.

Even though articles are not signed, they are still copyrighted at moment of being written by whoever wrote them, and upon publication by who the authors are writing for. That's basic copyright law; read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berne_Convention

Further, the magazine's own Terms of Service outlines this:

Intellectual Property

The contents ... supplied to you in conjunction with the Site and/or a Digital Application (such contents, design and materials being collectively referred to as the "Economist Content"), is copyright of The Economist and its licensors. You may not use or reproduce ... for any reason without written permission from The Economist... http://www.economist.com/legal/terms-of-use

  • I totally agree, although the linked articles (which the question poster does not to fully understand) is referring to magazines that accidentally entered the public domain between 1923 and 1968 due to a failure to renew a copyright on the part of the entity, in which case if there was residual copyright in the author who did renew the copyright, it would not enter the public domain for failure to renew.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 17:06
  • @ohwilleke You're right; I don't understand that link reference. Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 22:18

The copyright for articles in The Economist belong to the magazine rather than to the author. They are "work for hire" and the articles are emphatically not in the public domain simply because they were not published under a by-line.

While there is theoretically a possibility that an article could have been in a magazine that did not renew its copyright, but in which an individual did renew his or her copyright, in the case of a major magazine like The Economist, it is exceedingly unlikely that the magazine did not renew its copyright.

  • Your answer contradicts the other one. Do you have some reference to know that the articles belong to the magazine and not to the authors? Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 6:12
  • Not clear how one can declare that ALL articles in The Economist are "work for hire", where the legal author was therefore "The Economist" (i.e., the client or employer of the individual author), and simultaneously have that individual author claiming to own copyright of the same work.
    – Upnorth
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 18:43
  • @Upnorth There used to be a residual right of the true authors of a work to claim a copyright in cases where a work for hire copyright expired due to failure to renew. It isn't relevant under the current copyright regime but does matter in cases like the ones discussed in the link.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 20:49
  • @ohwilleke Thanks for the tip! Never ran across that one before.
    – Upnorth
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 23:31

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