Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick is PUBLIC DOMAIN

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Upon The Dull Earth, a wonderful novelet by Philip K. Dick, is public domain!

Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick (illustration by Vidmer)


The story was first published in 1954, in a magazine called Beyond Fiction, in its 9th issue (Volume 2, Number 3).

The public domain status was not previously known as the story appeared to have been copyright renewed.

But, it was not.

Upon The Dull Earth Copyright Renewal Detail

Observe the highlighted details in the image above. Note that the story the applicant has claimed that the story was published in “March 1955”, in a magazine called “Beyond Science Fiction” in issue “10” (Volume “2” Number “4”).

No such magazine exists!

Beyond Fiction, aka Beyond Fantasy Fiction, was a sister publication to Galaxy Science Fiction, a long running SF pulp magazine. Beyond Fantasy Fiction (also titled Beyond Fiction) lasted only 10 issues. It was not created to compete with Galaxy, thus it was never titled “Beyond Science Fiction.” Its tenth issue was published in 1955, but it did not contain Upon The Dull Earth, or any other story by Philip K. Dick.

The story was actually published in the preceding issue, #9, in 1954. As such it would not have been eligible for renewal at the time of application.

Beyond Fiction Volume 2, Number 3, Issue #9 (1954) – Table Of Contents (includes Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick):
Beyond Fiction Volume 2 Number 3 Issue 9 - Table Of Contents (includes Upon The Dull Earth)

Beyond Fiction Volume 2, Number 4, Issue #10 (1955) – Table Of Contents:
Beyond Fantasy Fiction, Issue 10, Table Of Contents

Copyright renewal application RE190631 (aka RE 190-631 aka RE0000190631):

The complete RE190631 (aka RE 190-631 aka RE0000190631) can be looked at on the official US copyright catalog website by using RE0000190631 as the search string HERE.

Posted by Jesse Willis

5 thoughts to “Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick is PUBLIC DOMAIN”

  1. And the story is also quoted as being first published in “Beyond Fantasy Fiction, Nov 1954” in the Collected Stories (in my Grafton Edition, but the notes seem to be pretty constant.). According to the same source the manuscript was received by Dick’s agent, the Scott Meredith Literary Agency, 12/30/53.
    Neither information makes a difference for the Public Domain issue, of course. But looking at the evidence there seems to be no doubt about the date of its first publication. Good work.

  2. The Citadel Twilight edition says the same thing but there is a somewhat obscured bearing on the public domain issue as the notes are interspersed in what is a continuation of the copyright page which states, “Individual stories were copyrighted in their year of first publication. For reasons of space this information has been placed at the back of this volume.” All five volumes of the Citadel Twilight edition have the same statement and the copyright acknowledgements and notes for stories listed in RE0000190631 all list the same first publications found in bibliographies of Philip K. Dick and in bibliographies of SF magazines they were published in. 23 discrepancies between bibliographic information and the copyright catalog entry.

    Interestingly, the estate has filed a lawsuit in a dispute over payments from the movie The Adjustment Bureau which stems from a dispute about whether “Adjustment Team” is in the public domain and its complaint states the first publication of that story was in Orbit, Sept.-Oct. 1954 not in Imaginative Tales, Sept. 1955 which is what the estate claims as first publication in RE0000190631. More precisely, in the complaint the estate states it “is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that the story first appeared in issue #4 of Orbit Science Fiction (“Orbit), the September-October 1954 edition” and makes no reference to the discrepancy, a 1958 reprint of “Adjustment Team” in an Australian magazine or to RE0000190631. The Preliminary Statement in the complaint says “This case is about __________ who wrongfully want something for nothing.” I’ll leave it as a puzzle for readers to fill in the blank without peeking at the complaint first.

    Excellent work, Jesse. When time and circumstances permit I expect to see “Upon The Dull Earth” and many other public domain PKD stories scanned, uploaded and turned into etexts as “Adjustment Team” was at Wikpedia sister sites. SWIM informed me the AT uploader is in the midst of a prolonged medical crisis but intends to upload a lot of public domain works there in the future with an initial emphasis on PKD.

  3. Cool. I have several more such posts in drafts, awaiting bits of evidence that will show the deception and falsity in the copyright renewal of other such stories.

  4. I think I’d destroy the magazine trying to scan “Upon the Dull Earth” but “Small Town” is also public domain in the US and looks like it can be scanned pretty easily without damaging the magazine. First story in the May, 1954 issue of Amazing Stories, pretty wide interior margins and the paper has held up well in my copy. I may give that a try and pass it along where it will be useful if scanning turns out well.

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