I am wondering if books from the communist era in east Europe (specifically Bulgarian books, published around 1981), that are technical in nature and have been published from a state run publishing house, are copyrighted.

What if I am to translate such a book in to English and publish it as my own work (without hiding the fact that it is a translation of the original text), can I sell it or upload it to my website to generate add revenue?

  • Which particular country published the original works?
    – Rick
    May 20 '21 at 8:12
  • 2
    Bulgaria, 1981 year May 20 '21 at 8:31
  • 4
    In general, yes, they are copyrighted. You would have to look at that country's copyright laws to see if they were exempt from copyright, but even if there are such exceptions they usually only cover certain institutions, not all state-owned enterprises.
    – amon
    May 20 '21 at 9:51
  • I think in the USA where some documents produced by the state at tax payers expense can be copied legally, they are still under copyright but have a license allowing the copying.
    – gnasher729
    May 20 '21 at 10:00
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    @grovkin Technically it is the same state even though fundamentally it has changed. Russia is not the same state as USSR, PRC is not the same state as the (original pre-1949) RoC, Islamic Republic of Iran isn't the same as the pre-revolution Iran. But Bulgaria did not end the Communist rule by a revolution with a completely new basis for statehood. The transition was technically done within the PRB framework using the amending procedure in PRB constitution.
    – xngtng
    May 25 '21 at 9:59

If you can substantiate that you acted outside of your agency under autocratic rule while creating the original, especially, if you were persecuted and/or, in fact, trafficked, in general, I would say you could make a strong claim that you should be allowed at least to use your own work or if such facts are known to a potential claimant (e.g. the Member State of Bulgaria), you probably wouldn't have to worry much as they would likely not attempt to enforce any unjust law as they may end up on the European Court of Justice.

  • 1
    I think you are under the impression that the original text is my own work. It is not, I was born 10 years after the book was published. Jul 18 '21 at 6:00

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