How can I determine who holds the copyright for a book, or other creative work?
A search of registrations, renewals, and recorded transfers of ownership made before 1978 requires a manual search of government copyright files. You can do that yourself at the Copyright Office. Alternately, their staff will perform searches for a fee. For further information, see Circular 22, How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work, and Circular 23, Copyright Card Catalog and the Online File.
SEE ALSO: WATCH (Writers, Artistis and Their Copyright Holders) administered by the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas and the University of Reading (UK). An invaluable resource for official and private copyright information, including contact information for the holders and/or their legal representatives.